A method of controlling the direct electrolytic reduction of a metal oxide or mixtures of metal oxides to the corresponding metal or metals. A non-consumable anode and a cathode and a salt electrolyte with a first reference electrode near the non-consumable anode and a second reference electrode near the cathode are used. Oxygen gas is produced and removed from the cell. The anode potential is compared to the first reference electrode to prevent anode dissolution and gas evolution other than oxygen, and the cathode potential is compared to the second reference electrode to prevent production of reductant metal from ions in the electrolyte.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC02-98CH10913 between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and The University of Chicago representing Argonne National Laboratory.