Solubility of Calcined Kaolinite, Montmorillonite, and Illite in High Molar NaOH and Suitability as Precursors for Geopolymers

  • chair:

    Werling, N. / Kaltenbach, J. / Weidler, P.G. / Schuhmann, R. / Dehn, F. / Emmerich, K. (2022)

  • place:

    Clays Clay Miner., 2022, 70, 270–289,

  • Date: Juni 2022
  • Abstract

    Clays and clay minerals dissolve over a broad pH range, such as during sediment diagenesis and in a variety of applications, including nuclear waste storage, landfills, and geopolymer binders in the construction industry. The solubility depends on process parameters (pH, temperature, pressure, etc.) and material properties (phase content, clay mineral composition, particle size, etc.). Pretreatments such as calcination or severe grinding change the material properties and could enhance solubility, which is called activation. The aim of the current study was to determine the solubility of three different clay minerals after calcination (metakaolinite, metamontmorillonite, and metaillite) in high molar alkaline solutions (NaOH) up to 10.79 mol/L and pH = 14.73. Furthermore, the solubility of an Al(OH)3 powder in alkaline solution (NaOH) was analyzed, as it can be used to adjust the Si:Al ratio of geopolymer precursors. The residues of the clay minerals after the alkaline treatment were investigated to disclose potential alterations in their phase contents. Based on the results of the thermal and alkaline activation, conclusions about the suitability as geopolymer precursors were made. All clay minerals showed an increase in solubility proportional to the concentration of the alkaline solution. The solubility decreased in the order metakaolinite > metamontmorillonite > metaillite. Thereby, dissolution was incomplete for all three clay minerals (<90%) after 7 days and congruent for metakaolinite and metaillite but incongruent for metamontmorillonite.