Abstract: The oxidative power of a smectite can be measured quantitatively by oxidation of hydroquinone to p-benzoquinone in a clay slurry. Oxidation takes place in the presence of O2 (air) but not N2 unless Fe3+ or Cu2+ are the exchangeable cations. This study examined 26 smectite samples with varying compositions and processing. The oxidative power increases with decreasing Li-fixation and increasing cation exchange capacity. Li-fixation does not depend upon the tetrahedral Al. The cation exchange capacity can decrease markedly by mere storage in water.
The oxidation proceeds principally on the surface by adsorbed oxygen molecules or radicals. A mechanism is proposed. With Fe3+ or Cu2+ present, even under N2, oxidation occurs via electron transfer. With smectites containing Fe2+, both the Fe and the hydroquinone are oxidized in the same reaction.