Studies of clay minerals and their decomposition products

  • Paul J. Michael

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Mõssbauer spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction of five coals revealed the presence of pyrite, illite, kaolinite and Quartz, together with other minor phases. Analysis of the coal ashes indicated the formation of hematite and an Fe (3+) paramagnetic phase, the latter resulting from .the dehydroxylation of the clay minerals during ashing at 700 to 750 C. By using a combination of several physicochemical methods, different successive stages of dehydroxylation, structural consolidation, and recrystallisation of illite, montmorillonite and hectorite upon thermal treatment to 1300 C were investigated. Dehydroxylation of the clay minerals occurred between 450 and 750 C, the X-ray crysdallinity of illite and montmorillonite remaining until 800 C. Hectorite gradually recrystallises to enstatite at temperatures above 700°C. At 900 C the crystalline structure of all three clay minerals had totally collapsed. Solid state reactions occurred above 900 C producing such phases as spinel, hematite, enstatite, cristobalite and mullite. Illite and montmorillonite started to melt between 1200 and 1300°C, producing a silicate glass that contained Fe(3+) and Fe(2+) ions. Ortho-pnstatite, clino-enstatite and proto-enstatite were identified in the thermal products of hectorite, their relative proportions varying with temperature. Protoenstatite was stabilised with respect to metastable clinoenstatite upon cooling from 12000 C by the presence of exchanged transition metal cations. Solid state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy of thermally treated transition metal exchanged hectorite indicated the levels at which paramagnetic cations could be loaded on to the clay before spectral resolution is significantly diminished.
Date of Award1989
Original languageEnglish


  • clay minerals
  • decomposition products
  • coal
  • electron spin resonance spectroscopy
  • solid state nuclear magnetic resonancc spectroscopy

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