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The process takes advantage of two liquid-state properties of zinc. The first is that zinc is immiscible with lead, and the other is that silver is 3000 times more soluble in zinc than it is in lead. Hence when zinc is added to liquid lead that contains silver as a contaminant, the silver preferentially migrates into the zinc. Because the zinc remains in a separate layer, it is easily removed. The zinc-silver solution is then heated until the zinc volatilizes, leaving nearly pure silver. If gold is present in liquid lead, it can also be removed and isolated by the same process. The process was patented by Alexander Parkes in 1850.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Parkes_process". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|