Resource Recovery of WC-Co Cermet Using Hydrothermal Oxidation Technique
WC-Co cermet is widely used in industrial applications such as cutting tools, dies, wear parts and so on. It is of great importance to establish the recycling process for the precious metal resources contained in WC-Co cermet, because all these metals used in Japan are imported. In this paper we reported a hydrothermal oxidation technique using nitric acid for the reclamation of WC and Co. The WC-Co cermet specimens with various WC particle sizes and Co contents were hydrothermally treated in HNO3 aqueous solutions at temperatures of 110-200°C for durations of 6-240 h. The Co was preferentially leached out into the acidic solution, while the WC was oxidized to insoluble WO3 hydrate which was subsequently separated by filtration. The hydrothermal treatment parameters such as solvent concentrations, treatment temperatures, holding time were optimized in respect to different kinds of WC-Co cermets. A hydrothermal oxidation treatment in 3M HNO3 aqueous solution at 150°C for 24 h was capable of fully disintegrating the cermet chip composed of coarse WC grains of 1-5 µm in size with 20 wt% of Co as binder. While the more oxidation resistant specimen composed of fine WC grains of 0.5-1.0 µm in size with 13 wt% of Co, was completely disintegrated by a treatment in 7 M HNO3 aqueous solution at 170°C for 24 h. The filtered solid residues were composed of fine WO3.0.33H2O powder and a small amount of WO3. The recovered WO3.0.33H2O powder can be easily returned to the industrial process for the synthesis of WC powder so that the overall recycling cost can be possibly lowered.
Wei Pan, Jianghong Gong, Chang-Chun Ge and Jing-Feng Li
N. Gao et al., "Resource Recovery of WC-Co Cermet Using Hydrothermal Oxidation Technique", Key Engineering Materials, Vols. 280-283, pp. 1479-1484, 2005