Size Distribution of Allophane Unit Particles in Aqueous Suspensions

P. L. Hall1, G. J. Churchman and B. K. G. Theng
Department of Chemistry, University of Birmingham Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom
Soil Bureau, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research Private Bag, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
1 Present address: Schlumberger Cambridge Research Ltd., P.O. Box 153, Cambridge CB2 3BE, United Kingdom.

Abstract: The size distribution of unit particles of two New Zealand allophanes (An and Rh), in dilute (0.8% w/v) aqueous suspensions, has been determined by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). In addition, the specific surface area of the samples was measured by ethylene glycol retention, and their morphology examined by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). The SANS data indicate that although both allophanes are somewhat polydisperse, the average diameter of their unit particles is significantly different, being 56 and 43 Å for allophane-An and allophane-Rh, respectively. Consistent with this observation, the specific surface area of allophane-Rh (897 m2/g) is appreciably greater than that of allophane-An (638 m2/g). Under the electron microscope, both samples appear as aggregates of hollow spherules but HRTEM did not clearly distinguish between the two allophanes in that the largest population of spherules had diameters near 50 Å. Because of the assumptions and uncertainties involved in the SANS and surface area measurements, the data must be discussed in terms of their respective ratios. On this basis, the spherule diameter ratio is of the same order of magnitude as the inverse ratio of specific surface area. The latter value is also in reasonably good agreement with the corresponding ratios of phosphate adsorption capacity and BET nitrogen areas, derived from earlier studies.

Key Words: Allophane • High-resolution transmission electron microscopy • Morphology • Particle size • Small-angle neutron scattering • Surface area

Clays and Clay Minerals; August 1985 v. 33; no. 4; p. 345-349; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1985.0330411
© 1985, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)