Abstract: Dimensional changes in kaolinite pellets as a function of temperature show two sharp shrinkage “steps,” at about 450–550°C and 900–980°C, which are roughly comparable in magnitude. Isothermal heat-soaking tests confirm that the rates for both are kinetically controlled. Water vapor inhibits shrinkage at low temperature but promotes shrinkage at high temperature. Both the former reaction, related to dehydroxylation, and the latter reaction, related to “mullitization,” take place at temperatures well below those observed in DTA, TG, and other measurements, indicating that bond-breaking is a necessary prelude to transitions at higher temperatures.
Bonding energy changes, as measured by X-ray fluorescence shifts, were used in interpreting the phenomena involved. The relative absence of bonding energy changes in the aluminum until the range 950–1100°C, and the presence of such changes in the silicon, suggest that high-temperature energy release is probably related to segregation or crystallization of silica, rather than of an aluminum-containing phase. Caution must be used in interpreting bonding energy changes, and in distinguishing kinetic and thermodynamic contributions to dynamic phenomena.