Acidified Oxalate and Dithionite Solubility and Color of Synthetic, Partially Oxidized Al-Magnetites and their Thermal Oxidation Products

D. C. Golden1, D. W. Ming1, L. H. Bowen2, R. V. Morris1 and H. V. Lauer Jr.3
1 NASA-Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas 77058
2 Department of Chemistry, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695
3 Lockheed ESC, Houston, Texas 77058

Abstract: Submicron-sized (∼3–60 nm) powders of Al-substituted magnetite were synthesized in the laboratory by precipitation methods by mixing appropriate molar volumes FeCl2, FeCl3 and AlCl3 solutions and precipitating with 20% NH4OH. Precipitates were dialyzed for 48 hr to remove excess salts and then freeze-dried. The nominal Al mole fractions [Als = Al/(Al + Fe)] in the initial precipitate ranged from 0.001 to 0.42. Portions of the resulting powders were heated sequentially in air at 400° and 500°C. Powders were examined using X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and visible and near-IR reflectance spectroscopy. Solubilities were determined in ammonium oxalate (pH = 3) and dithionite-citrate-bicarbonate (DCB) solutions. As determined by XRD, the mineralogy of precipitated powder samples was predominantly magnetite. Powders having Als > 0.20 contained minor goethite and a poorly crystalline iron oxide phase (ferrihydrite?), and powders having Als > 0.25 also contained gibbsite. The color of the magnetites was black throughout the range of Al-substitution. Powders heated to 400°C were reddish brown; Munsell colors ranged from 5R 2/2 to 10R 3/4 for Al, from 0.1–41.5%, respectively. By XRD, these powders were maghemite, but hematite was also detected by Mössbauer spectroscopy. XRD and Mössbauer data indicate powders heated to 500°C are hematite; their Munsell colors are not noticeably different from the corresponding 400°C samples. Mean crystallite dimensions (MCDs) of the magnetite powders increase with the Al mole fraction from ∼10 nm for Als = 0.001% to a maximum value of 35 nm for Als = 0.15 and decrease slightly with further increasing Al substitution. Heating magnetite powders to 400°C did not change the MCDs significantly. Heating to 500°C resulted in hematites having MCDs larger than those for corresponding precursor magnetites for Als < 0.10. The opposite is true for hematites derived from magnetites having Als > 0.10. For hematite powders with Als > 0.05, MCD decreased with increasing Al-substitution. Solubilities of powders in oxalate solutions were independent of Al content and decreased in the order unheated samples (mostly magnetite) >400°C-heated samples (maghemite + hematite) >500°C-heated samples (hematite). All powders dissolved completely in DCB. The low crystallinity of the magnetite powders and the presence of ferrous iron are responsible for their relatively high solubility in oxalate solutions.

Key Words: Aluminum substitution • Electron microscopy • Hematite • Maghemite • Magnetite • Oxidation • Solubility

Clays and Clay Minerals; February 1994 v. 42; no. 1; p. 53-62; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1994.0420107
© 1994, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)