Electrometallurgy is a method that uses electrical energy to produce metals by electrolysis. Electrometallurgy is usually the last stage in metal production and is therefore preceded by pyrometallurgical or hydrometallurgical operations. The electrolysis can be done on a molten metal oxide (smelt electrolysis) which is used for example to produce aluminium from aluminium oxide via the Hall-Hérault process. Electrolysis can be used as a final refining stage in pyrometallurgical metal production (electrorefining) and it is also used for reduction of a metal from an aqueous metal salt solution produced by hydrometallurgy (electrowinning).
Electrometallurgy is the field concerned with the processes of metal electrodeposition There are four categories of these processes:
- Electrowinning, the extraction of metal from ores
- Electrorefining, the purification of metals. Metal powder production by electrodeposition is included in this category, or sometimes electrowinning, or a separate category depending on application.
- Electroplating, the deposition of a layer of one metal on another
- Electroforming, the manufacture of, usually thin, metal parts through electroplating
- Electropolishing, the removal of material from a metallic workpiece
- Popov et al., p.1
- Popov et al., pp.2,30
- Konstantin Ivanovich Popov, Stojan S. Djokić, Branimir N. Grgur, Fundamental Aspects of Electrometallurgy, Springer, 2002 ISBN 0-306-47269-4.