Characterisation of insoluble charcoal in Weipa bauxite

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Journal Article
Carbon, 2005, 43 (6), pp. 1279 - 1285
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The role of charcoal like components (also referred to as char) in soil organic matter reactivity has become increasingly evident. Recently we have demonstrated the role of such material in bauxite. Sodium hydroxide is used at elevated temperatures to separate aluminium hydroxide from ferric oxide in bauxite in the Bayer process and charcoal like material may interfere with the precipitation of aluminium hydroxide. In this paper we study the solubility, structure and composition of charcoal in the feed stockpile of bauxite ore by solubility, laser Raman spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (py-GC/MS). The charcoal was treated under simulated Bayer process conditions of 245 °C in 5 M sodium hydroxide. The alkaline digestion test showed that a large fraction of the charcoal was insoluble (∼90%). Surprisingly, the spectroscopic characterisation revealed not only typical polycyclic aromatic networks expected for charcoals (aromaticity fa = 0.64), but also showed an aliphatic character and that the sample contained alkyl chains ranging from nC10 to nC 23 carbon chain lengths. The role of this material in bauxite refineries is discussed. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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