1: The Production of Zinc by Electrolysis of Zinc Sulphate Solutions (1931)


  • Harry Hey Electrolytic Zinc Co.


First Liversidge research lecture delivered on 24th Sept., 1931, at Science House, Sydney, arranged by the Royal Society of New South Wales under the terms of the Liversidge bequest. Reproduced by permission of the Royal Society of New South Wales from J. Proc. Roy. Soc. N.S.W., 1931, 65, M1-M48.

"As recently as 1914 there was no electrolytic zinc industry. Its development has been truly remarkable. Its position to-day is an outstanding example of the application of rigid chemical control to large scale operations. The electrolytic zinc plant is really a laboratory on a large scale in which thousands of gallons, instead of litres, of solution are handled in tanks and pumps instead of beakers and pipettes.

"Prior to 1913 literally hundreds of experimenters attempted to recover zinc by hydrometallurgical processes which, in many cases, involved the electrolysis of a solution of either zinc sulphate or zinc chloride. Accounts of their experiments are distributed throughout the literature of many countries, more especially in patent records, but it was not until 1914 that the modern electrolytic zinc process or, indeed, any commercial process involving the electrolysis of zinc sulphate solutions, can be said to have been established."


Author Biography

Harry Hey, Electrolytic Zinc Co.


When Harry Hey was selected as the first Liversidge Lecturer by the Royal Society of NSW, he was the chief metallurgist at the Electrolytic Zinc Co., supervising the chemical and metallurgical operations at Risdon and Rosebery in Tasmania, and of the roasting and acid plants on the mainland. Later in his career, he was the President of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and assisted researchers at the University of Melbourne with studies into zinc sulfate.


For additional biographical information, references and a list of honours, awards and publications, please see pages 3–6 of the transcript.


a. Letrange, German Patent 21775, 1881; Letrange, U.S.A. Patent 286208, 1883.

b. Ralston, Hydrometallurgy of Zinc.

c. Cowper Cowles, Trans. Soc. Engineers, 1898.

d. Ashcroft, Trans. Inst. Mining & Metallurg., Eng., 1898.

e. Hansen, Trans. American Inst. of Mining Engineers, 1918.

f. Tainton, Trans. American Electrochemical Society, LVII, 1930.

g. Oldright and Niconoff, University of Utah Technical Paper, No. 6, 1929.

Harry Hey portrait