Kids Projects

Electrical Cleavage of Mineral Ore

The Objective : If an electrical current passes through an ore that contains certain metals, while in a saline solution, then metals will be emitted off the ore in small molecular amounts.


Roughly 50 pounds of Barium ore were extracted from an abandoned open pit mine in the High Sierras. The ore was cut into small cubes using a rock table saw.

The actual size of the barium ore cubes varied slightly. A circuit with a switch was built using a 6-volt battery.

The wire coming off the switch had an alligator clip soldered on, that held a conducting rod. A 4-oz container filled with 4 tbs of saltwater was placed in the circuit.

The rod was placed in a stable position in the saltwater through a hole drilled in the lid. The ore samples were dipped into the salt solution and placed in a large alligator clip and dangled from the lid through a second hole in the container lid. The ore sample was suspended in the salt water near the rod.

The lid was placed on top of the container holding the salt solution. The clip with the rod was placed into the salt water through the hole drilled for it.

A timer was set for the specific test time limit (1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 12 hour tests). Both timer and switch were turned on simultaneously. After testing, the circuit was turned off, and the rock dried.

Test products were taken to a radiology unit where they were x-rayed for metal extraction evidence.

Samples were then taken to the Edwards AFBs Hazmat Lab, where they were processed by an ICP-MS, which analyzed the amount of Barium in the ore.


After all of the ore samples were tested they were re-weighed; all of the samples weighed the same as they did before tests were conducted.

The x-rays revealed no additional information due to the high amounts of salinity in the solutions. Fortunately that was not a problem for the ICP-MS.

ICP-MS Results (concentrations are in ug/L)
Container- 1...... 2...... .3......... 4..... 5..... 6....... 7...... 8...... 9...... 10.....11.... 12
Barium- 12400 1609 13141 2698 8696 3217 4301 5360 2829 3480 9424 33058

Though the amount of Barium varied in the tests. There was still plenty of evidence that there was barium emitted from the ore samples. In fact, roughly 33,000 ug/L of Barium was found in test 12.


Overall, the data did support the hypothesis, barium was extracted from the ore samples through electrolysis.

This project is to see create an easier and safer way for miners and scientists to extract metals from ore.

Science Fair Project done By Clayton P. Skousen



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