Modular cathode assemblies are useable in electrolytic reduction systems and include a basket through which fluid electrolyte may pass and exchange charge with a material to be reduced in the basket. The basket can be divided into upper and lower sections to provide entry for the material. Example embodiment cathode assemblies may have any shape to permit modular placement at any position in reduction systems. Modular cathode assemblies include a cathode plate in the basket, to which unique and opposite electrical power may be supplied. Example embodiment modular cathode assemblies may have standardized electrical connectors. Modular cathode assemblies may be supported by a top plate of an electrolytic reduction system. Electrolytic oxide reduction systems are operated by positioning modular cathode and anode assemblies at desired positions, placing a material in the basket, and charging the modular assemblies to reduce the metal oxide.
 The invention was made with Government support under contract number DE-AC02-06CH11357, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.