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DEFINITION

Leaching is the process by which inorganic - , organic contaminants or radionuclides are


released from the solid phase into the water phase under the influence of mineral dissolution,
desorption, complexation processes as affected by pH, redox, dissolved organic matter and
(micro) biological activity. In other words, we can conclude that leaching is just the process
of extracting a substance from a solid material that has come into contact with a liquid
including separation of metal from ore using acid,

and sugar from beets using

hot water.

Other than that, another term for this is lixiviation, or the extraction of a soluble particle from
its constituent parts and also used to remove the metals as soluble salts.

PROCESS PRINCIPLES
In chemical industry, the process of leaching is commonly referred to as extraction. Diagram
2 illustrates a broad overview of how the leaching process works.

First, the solvent comes into contact with the solid matrix. A solvent is usually a liquid that
functions to dissolve a substance or solute. A solute is the substance being dissolved by a
solvent. Thus, the solvent would be the liquid and the solute would be the substance you
would like to extract from the solid matrix. Next, the solvent travels through the solid matrix,
separating the substance (solute) from this matrix so that it can be collected. This step is
commonly referred to as percolation, which is really just a fancy word for filtering. You are
essentially filtering out the solute you desire from the solid matrix using a solvent.
Both steps lead to the end result, which is extraction of the desired substance (solute). If we
do an overview in this explanation, there are three important parts to leaching which are
contact, separate and extract. Initially, let the solvent come into contact with the solid matrix,

then separate the desired substance from the solid matrix using the solvent and lastly extract
the desired substance for collection.

TYPES OF EQUIPMENT
There are many different types of equipment used for leaching. Most of these pieces of
equipment fall into one of two categories:
The first one is Percolation (Liquid added to solids) which is the solvent is contacted with the
solid in a continuous or batch method. This method is popular for in-place ore leaching or
large scale "heap" leaching. It is also popular for extreme amounts of solids.

The other category is Dispersed Solids ("Solids added to liquid") which is the solids are
usually crushed into small pieces before being contacted with solvents. This is a popular
leaching method when an especially high recovery rate can economically justify the typically
higher operating cost (Ex/ gold extraction).

Gold Extraction Equipment

APPLICATIONS
There are many application of leaching in industry. One of the application that apply leaching
is tests for toxicity evaluation of coal fly ash. The toxic properties of coal fly ash samples
obtained from various coal combustion power plants were evaluated in this work using
physicochemical analyses and bioassays. The results of the chemical analysis of eluates
deduced by the application of standard leaching tests according to EN 12457-2 and Toxicity
Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) methods indicated that the compounds contained
in fly ashes.
Besides, leaching also tests for the assessment of available heavy metals from domestic and
industrial sludges. Various sludge samples from different domestic and industrial wastewater
treatment plants were analysed by AAS to evaluate their total and available contents of heavy
metals. The EDTA and acetic acid single extraction procedures were applied to these samples
with the aim to study the leaching behaviour of the metals in the different sludges
Next, the other examples of leaching process are the metals industry for removing mineral
from ores (acid solvents), the sugar industry for removing sugar from beets (water is solvent)
and the oilseeds industry for removing oil from soybeans, etc. (hexane or similar organic
solvents). Moreover, leaching also apply in the environment, where materials can be leached
out by rainwater and carried into the groundwater supply and very easy example that happen
everyday is making your morning coffee.