Let’s Protect Nature: Unique Technology of Electroplating Created at SUSU

The problem of production waste disposal is still among the most important ones today, and various substances are actively affecting the surrounding environment. At South Ural State University, researchers have patented a unique technology for electroplating, which makes it possible to solve this issue.

Work on this project is being performed with support from Zlatoust Ecological Research and Implementation Center, and the researchers registered a patent for their invention in 2017. The research was also marked by a grant from the contest Forward to Discoveries 2017. The project author, student of the SUSU Institute of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Anastasia Fedosova shares on the specifics of this new technology.

“Electroplating involves applying metallic or chemical coatings to give specific characteristics to a material (durability, corrosion protection, hardness, etc.). We created an effective technique for disposing of waste from electroplating: brass and waste etching solutions. It has already been implemented at Zlatoust Clock Factory. In addition, our development was presented to member of the State Duma Vladimir Burmatov. In the future, we are planning on creating a bill determining safety norms for electroplating, which is poorly regulated currently.”

To give various new characteristics to materials and parts, they undergo chemical treatment in solutions of chrome or copper. A standard method of disposal of these solutions is used: chemical substances are output as sediments which must be buried at special landfills. At present, there are no such areas in the Chelyabinsk Region, and the electroplating waste can affect the environment. As a result of electroplating wastewater is generated with high concentration of ions of heavy metals, which with time permeate human body. The project by the researchers from the Institute of Natural Sciences and Mathematics aims at solving this issue. Thus, the electroplating waste is used as recoverable raw materials, what is also economically profitable for business. The obtained zinc oxide can be used in the process of zincing, and powder copper is used to produce copper sulfate.

In addition, as part of the contest, the researchers are holding additional studies on treatment of the obtained chemical substances and searching for valuable materials in the sediments of etching solutions. Thus, implementation of these technologies makes it possible to make manufacturing safer for humans and the environment, and gives businesses economic benefit.

Viktoria Matveichuk; photo by the author
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