Optimized Ore Processing using Molten Salts for Leaching and Thermal Energy Storage

Case ID:

University of Arizona researchers have developed and optimized an electrochemical metal extraction process utilizing molten chloride salt. The salt serves as a heat transfer fluid, which can power the process itself or provide power to outside processing units or communities. The material, or slag, leftover from the process is non-toxic and may easily serve as a viable construction material.

The Copper, Zinc, and Lead refining industry is defined by its processes including smelting, leaching, electrolytic refining and more. Typically companies within this industry practice smelting metal-bearing ores and process nonferrous metals via electrolytic processes. As an alternative to common electrolytic practices, researchers at the University of Arizona have developed this inexpensive and environmentally friendly process, which has shown high process yields of over 99% in lab scale experiments.  


  • Green mining
  • Copper, Zinc, and other transition metal refining
  • Precious metal refining
  • Mining power source
  • Non-toxic building material from slag waste byproduct
  • Recovery of metals from electronic waste


  • Non-toxic
  • Alternative to traditional techniques involving cyanide and sulfuric acid leaching
  • Molten salt is inexpensive and recyclable
  • Cost is less than, or equal to, aluminum refining
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Tariq Ahmed
Sr Licensing Manager, College of Engineering
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Dominic Gervasio
Hassan Elsentriecy