The thermophysical properties of australian opal

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Publication Series, 2008, pp. 557 - 560
Issue Date:
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The characterisation of the surface area and porosity of opals derived from Tintenbar, a volcanic environment, and Lightning Ridge, a sedimentary environment, using nitrogen gas adsorption at -196°C is reported. Both opal types were found to have relatively low surface areas and displayed little porosity. The low surface areas observed is indicative of the ability of silica to infill voids and interstices. Thermogravimetric analysis of the samples before and after degassing was carried out to determine the amount of water removed by the degassing process. Negligible difference was found in the water content before and after degassing in the case of the Lightning Ridge sedimentary opal, while the Tintenbar volcanic opal was found to have lost more that 60 per cent of its water during the degassing process. These differences were ascribed to the differences in the silica structure of the opals with the Lightning Ridge opal having a denser cage structure, which traps the molecular water, while a more open structure is postulated for the Tintenbar opal, allowing the water to be relatively easily removed.
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