200 years of practical electroanalytical chemistry: Past, present and future directions illustrated by reference to the on-line, on-stream and off-line determination of trace metals in zinc plant electrolyte by voltammetric and potentiometric techniques

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The millennium being celebrated this year coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of practical electrochemistry made possible via Volta's publication of the battery in the year 1800. The analytical chemists at the beginning of the 19th century were very quick to take advantage of this newly reported device and the first qualitative electrochemical determination of copper rapidly followed this pioneering discovery. In the last 200 years, electrochemical analysis, in its various forms, has been undertaken routinely in countless laboratories all over the world. However, in view of the long and distinguished history of the discipline, and some limitations that have been identified at the time of the celebration of the millennium, electrochemical analysis is regarded in some quarters as being a mature and conservative discipline whose importance in the future, when faced with severe competition from newly emerging alternative analytical techniques, is somewhat unclear. In this paper, an overview of past and present developments in electroanalytical chemistry and the possible future status of the technique is presented. In particular, emphasis is given to describing applications relevant to the also very mature field of electrowinning of zinc from plant electrolyte. This overview encompasses the author's 25 years' experience in developing polarographic, stripping voltammetric, adsorptive stripping voltammetric and ion-selective electrode (ISE) methods of analysis in on-line, on-stream and off-line modes for the determination of elements such as Cd, Pb, Ge, Sb (oxidation states (III) and (V)), Co, Ni, Zn, Fe, (oxidation states (II) and (III)), Tl, As (total) and Cu in zinc plant electrolyte. Developments that may contribute to an important future for analytical voltammetry are also considered as are limitations that could inhibit the extent of practical use of these electroanalytical techniques in the 21st century. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-379
Number of pages47
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 1999


  • Potentiometry
  • Trace metals
  • Voltammetry
  • Zinc plant electrolyte

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