The Production of High-Purity Tellurium

CIM Bulletin, 1966

P. H. Jennings; J. C. T. Farge Norando Research Centre, Pointe Claire, Que

Commercial tellurium commonly contains heavy basemetal impurities such as lead, copper, iron, etc., as well as selenium and oxygen. The base metals may be removed by vacuum distillation or by zone melting. Vacuum distillation is a convenient method for treating moderate quantities (,_, 100 kg.) for the production of a material having a total content of heavy metals in the 10-30 ppm range. By zone melting, it is possible to lower all the heavy metal impurities tm below the limits of spectrographie detection. Neither vacuum distillation nor zone melting is effective for the removal of selenium, but treatment of molten tellurium with hydrogen converts selenium to hydrogen selenide. This procedure is too s low to be considered except as an adjunct to zone melting. In the course of air-melting, many of the more easily oxidized impurities form a dross and may thus be readily removed. Substantial refinement with respect to iron, tin, chromium, aluminum, sodium, silicon, magnesium, calcium and manganese can be achieved in this way. Although tellurium can be electrodeposited from either acid or alkaline solutions of the dioxide, various factors militate against successful electro-refining, amongst which may be mentioned the brittleness of cast tellurium anodes and the tendency for the metal to be deposited in dendritic form, even at low current densities.
Keywords: Concentration, copper, Distillation, Electrorefining of Tellurium, heavy metals, selenium, Vacuum Distillation Apparatus, Zone Melting, experiment, Experiments, Impurities, Lead, Selenium, Temperature