Thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of formation of bauxites.
Experiments in which cleavage nepheline samples were reacted with aqueous solutions at fixed pH's and temperature were carried out in the laboratory. The chemistry of the solution as a function of time was monitored, as well as the chemistry of the nepheline surfaces. At 25°C, Al derived from the nepheline stays in solution due to slow precipitation kinetics of Al(OH)3. At 60° and 80°C, precipitation of Al(OH)3 is so rapid that Al concentration in solution is below 0.05 ppm. This indicates that precipitation kinetics favour the formation of bauxite deposits in tropical regions (i.e. T⩾25°C), but not in temperate regions. Precipitation products on the surface of the nepheline fragments at 60° and 80°C depend on the pH. At pH 3.0, an amorphous aluminium silicate (proto-kaolinite?) is formed. At pH>7.0, the precipitated phase contains, in addition to Al and Si, high amounts of Na and K (proto-muscovite?). The optimum pH for the formation of bauxite is in the range 5–7. These results are in agreement with thermodynamic calculations.