A process for removing zinc from galvanized steel. The galvanized steel is immersed in an electrolyte containing at least about 15% by weight of sodium or potassium hydroxide and having a temperature of at least about 75.degree. C. and the zinc is galvanically corroded from the surface of the galvanized steel. The material serving as the cathode is principally a material having a standard electrode potential which is intermediate of the standard electrode potentials of zinc and cadmium in the electrochemical series. The corrosion rate may be accelerated by (i) increasing the number density of corrosion sites in the galvanized steel by mechanically abrading or deforming the galvanized steel, (ii) heating the galvanized steel to form an alloy of zinc on the surface of the galvanized steel, (iii) mixing the galvanized steel with a material having a standard electrode potential which is intermediate of the standard electrode potentials of zinc and cadmium in the electrochemical series, or (iv) moving the galvanized steel relative to itself and to the electrolyte while immersed in the electrolyte.
This invention was made with Government support under contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38 between The University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.