Investigation of an electrochemical method for separation of copper, indium, and gallium from pretreated cigs solar cell waste materials
Journal article, 2015
Recycling of the semiconductor material copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) is important to ensure a future supply of indium and gallium, which are relatively rare and therefore expensive elements. As a continuation of our previous work, where we recycled high purity selenium from CIGS waste materials, we now show that copper and indium can be recycled by electrodeposition from hydrochloric acid solutions of dissolved selenium-depleted material. Suitable potentials for the reduction of copper and indium were determined to be -0.5 V and -0.9 V (versus the Ag/AgCl reference electrode), respectively, using cyclic voltammetry. Electrodeposition of first copper and then indium from a solution containing the dissolved residue from the selenium separation and ammonium chloride in 1 M HCl gave a copper yield of 100.1 ± 0.5% and an indium yield of 98.1 ± 2.5%. The separated copper and indium fractions contained no significant contamination of the other elements. Gallium remained in solution together with a small amount of indium after the separation of copper and indium and has to be recovered by an alternative method since electrowinning from the chloride-rich acid solution was not effective.