Electrometallurgy is a technique that uses electrical energy to produce metals by the process of electrolysis. Electrometallurgy is usually the end stage in metal production and is therefore preceded by pyro- or hydrometallurgical operations. Electrolysis is used as a final refining stage in pyrometallurgical metal production (electrorefining) and it is also used for the reduction of a metal from an aqueous metal salt solution produced by hydrometallurgy (electrowinning).
The electrometallurgical processes can be categorized into four main groups:
- Electrowinning: It is the extraction of metals by electrodeposition from aqueous solution or melts of their salts.
- Electrorefining: It is the purification of metals by electrolysis
- Electroplating: It is the treatment that modifies the surface of a metal or occasionally a non-metal, without changing
its bulk properties
- Electroforming: It is the manufacture of articles by electrodeposition