Aluminium electrodeposition under ambient conditions
The electrodeposition of aluminium is demonstrated using a eutectic mixture of aluminium chloride and urea. The mixture is shown to be conducting through the formation of both cationic ([AlCl2·urean]+) and anionic (AlCl4−) species and electrodeposition is achieved through the cationic species. The use of a biphasic system with the ionic liquid and a protective hydrocarbon layer allows metal deposition to be carried out in an environment with ambient moisture without the need for a glove box. A direct comparison is made between the AlCl3:urea and imidazolium chloride:AlCl3 systems and the differences in speciation and mass transport manifest themselves in different deposit morphologies. Brighteners which work in the chloroaluminate system such as toluene and LiCl are shown to be ineffective in the urea based system and the reasons for these differences are ascribed to the mechanism of the anodic reaction which is rate limiting.