Peptization Resistance of Selected Samples of Kaolinitic, Montmorillonitic, and Illitic Clay Materials

U. Grant Whitehouse and Lela M. Jeffrey*
Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas
* A contribution from the Chemical Division of the Department of Oceanography, A. and M. College of Texas, College Station, Texas, Oceanographic and Meteorological Series No. 57.

Abstract: Variations in the peptization resistance of selected samples of clay mineralogical materials toward alkaline dispersing agents are discussed from a quantitative point of view.

Clay samples, collected from South Carolina, Wyoming, Illinois, New Mexico, South Wales, Great Britain and Cornwall, England were subjected to the action of solutions of Calgon (“sodium hexametaphosphate”), ammonia, sodium hydroxide, sodium carbonate, sodium pyrophosphate, and “sodium lignosulfonate.” The resulting apparent dispersion, in each case, was expressed as a function of the employed concentration and chemical nature of the dispersing agent. Pipette analysis and Oden balance techniques at constant temperature were used to measure the degree of dispersion. All clay samples employed were identified as to type by X-ray diffraction, chemical analysis, thermal analysis, and electron microscopy.

All samples examined exhibited a maximum in apparent dispersion (suspension stability) at a specific concentration of dispersing agent. Such maximum was followed by a sudden decrease in apparent dispersion, i.e., flocculation, at higher concentrations of dispersing agent. Concentrations of dispersing agent were varied in steps of one part per thousand. One hundred and twenty experimental runs were made on each type of material examined. Differences in the degree of apparent dispersion attained by use of different dispersing agents were expressed in terms of a threshold concentration which altered “equivalent diameter” one tenth of a phi unit. Among dispersing agents employed, “sodium lignosulfonate” was found to be least selective of clay mineral type in its peptizing action.

An equation for the calculation of a “peptization resistance factor” is presented. Results obtained by application of this equation indicate that differences in the response of the same clay material to different alkaline dispersing agents may be attributed, in part, to differences in degree of peptization achieved by “threshold mechanisms” of peptization and by “adjustment mechanisms” along the peptization path. Such equation may have future value in the differentiation of marine and terrestrial clay deposits.

Clays and Clay Minerals; 1954 v. 3; no. 1; p. 260-281; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1954.0030121
© 1954, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)