THERMODYNAMICS OF THE VARIOUS
HIGH TEMPERATURE TRANSFORMATIONS
OF KAOLINITE
by
N. C. ScHiELTZ* and M. R. SoLiMANf
ABSTRACT
THERMODYNAMI C calculations of AG for all possible transformations of metakaoli n at
the temperatur e of t he first DTA exothermi c peak indicates t hat the most stabl e trans
formation is the one t hat yields mullite rather t han yalumina.
The energy of crystalUzation of yalumina is quite small—36,513 cal per mol, com
pared with the energy of crystallization of mullite—336,180 cal per mol. Furthermore,
the crystallization of yalumina is very slow, and t he crystal growt h never produces
crystallit e sizes much larger t han the lower end of the colloidal region. Hence, the gradual
release of the small amount s of energy liberated during the crystallization of yalumina
would be extremel y difficult to detect by DTA methods.
I NTRODUCTI O N
ALTHOUGH the kaolinitemuUite transformation series has been the subject
of extensive investigations, some fundamental problems still remain unsolved.
The interpretation of the first exothermic peak that is observed in the DTA
of kaolinite at about 980°C is still a matter of speculation.
It is a wellknown fact that kaolinite, Al2032Si022H20, undergoes some
significant changes in its structure when heated to higher temperatures. It
loses its (OH) lattice water between 500°600°C. This loss of lattice water
breaks up the regular periodicity in the kaolinite structure along the caj^is
producing a dehydrated phase known as metakaolin. By further heating,
metakaolin transforms to a crystalline phase or phases, indicated by the first
exothermic peak at about 980°C. This phase or these phases are still a point
of dispute among different investigators. Insley and Ewell (1935), Jay (1939),
Hyslop (1944) and Richardson and Wild (1952) report yalumina as the
product phase of fired kaolinite at 980°C. Comeforo, Fisher, and Bradley
(1948), Johns (1953) and Brindley and Hunter (1955) report mullite as the
product phase of fired kaolinite that was responsible for the first exothermic
DTA peak at about 980°C.
* Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado.
t Ministry of Industry, Geological Survey and Mineral Research Department, Cairo,
Egypt.
419
420 THIRTEENTH NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CLAYS AND CLAY MINERALS
DETAI LE D STUDY OF KAOLI NI TE MULLI T E
TRANSFORMATI O N S ERI E S
In this investigation, experimental laboratory work was combined with a
thermodynamic approach in an attempt to explain the first exothermic
DTA peak of kaolinite. A detailed study of the kaolinitemuHite transfor
mation series was made over the range 950°1500°C. The transformations
were followed by means of Xray analysis at temperature intervals as small
as 10°C in the neighborhood of the first exothermic peak. The heating time
was varied between 5 min and several hours. Studies on different kaolinite
minerals* and one halloysite sample showed that yalumina was always
forming before mullite and at longer heating times it was found that
both yalumina and mullite coexisted as product phases of fired kaolinite
between 950°1100°C (Plate 1).
In all Xray patterns of yalumina, the lines were always very broad and
diffuse, even after heating for as long as 28 hr and furnace cooling. This
indicates that yalumina never develops into a wellcrystallized phase as
compared to mullite. The yalumina phase could never be identified on a
diffractometer trace. It was also found that yalumina lines were shifted
compared with the lines of the standard pattern, indicating a spineltype
phase as reported by Brindley and Nakahira (1958).
In spite of the fact that both yalumina and mullite coexist as product
phases of fired kaolinite, the question concerning the source of the first DTA
exothermic peak still remains: Which phase is responsible for the first exo
thermic peak? Is it yalumina or mullite or both?
Thermodynamic Data for Kaolinite and its Products
Vaughan (1955) reported that the values of heats of formation of meta
kaolin, mullite and yalumina were given by Avgustinik and Mchedlov
Petrosyan in 1952 as 767,500, 1,804,000 and 391,290 cal per mol. The
values reported by Kroger in 1953 (Vaughan, 1955) are: —803,000,
— 1,804,000 and —395,000 cal per mol respectively, for the same substances.
The value for the heat of formation of metakaolin, —767,500 cal per mol,
is also listed in the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (1959; 1960.
The heat of formation of kaolinite was estimated by Vaughan (1955) as
—964,000 cal per mol and as —964,940 cal per mol by Budnikov and
* The kaolinit e mineral s were: (1) E.P.K., produced by the Edgar Plastic Kaolin
Company, Edgar, Florida, code no. CT1081. (2) Mallinckrodt Kaolinit e produced by
the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, St. Louis, Mo., code no. 5643, lot no. KH520.
(3) A.P.I. 9b. Kaolinite, Reference Clay Minerals, A.P.I. Research Project 49. (4)
Halloysite, Ureka, Utah, A.P.I. Research Project 49.
t The Xray patterns made at room temperatur e of kaolinites and halloysite t hat had
been heated at 950°C from 20^ 0 min showed small crystallites of aquart z prior to the
formation of yalumina, which appeared after about 1 hr heating time at 950°C.
X The temperatur e range where bot h yalumina and mullit e coexist, i.e. 950°1100°C,
is for E.P.Kaolinit e only; for other mineral s this temperatur e range is slightly different,
since it depends on the type of mineral used.
I'LATE
1.
Coexistence of yal umna and mullite
at
different
temperatures.
THERMODYNAMI C S OF HI G H TEMP ERATUR E TRANSFORMATI ON S 42 1
Mchedl ov Pet r os ya n (1960). The y al so det er mi ne d t he hea t capaci t y of
kaol i ni t e from t h e oxi de s a n d wa t e r val ues. Th e t he r modyna mi c d a t a for
different phase s of si l i ca a n d wa t e r wer e r epor t e d b y Kel l y (I960), Kuba s c h 
ewski a n d Ev a n s (1951), Coughl i n (1954) a n d Gl assne r (1959).
Tabl e 1 l i st s t h e mos t rel i abl e val ue s of t h e t he r modyna mi c pr oper t i e s of
kaol i ni t e a n d i t s pr oduct s.
TABLE 1.—VALUES OF THERMODYNAMI C PROPERTIES S^^g, Ail^ajg AND Cp FOR KAOLINITE
AND I TS PRODUCTS
Substance
AH„
Kaolinite
Metakaoli n
Mullite
yAlumina
aQuartz
8Quartz
SiOj (glass)
aCristobalit e
i8Cristobalite
aTridymit e
i8Tridymite
HjO (water)
HjO (steam)
40.50
32.78
60.00
12.20
10.06
10.06
10.06
10.06
10.06
10.06
10.06
16.72
45.13
964,940
767,500
1,804,000
395,000
209,900
209,900
202,000
209,550
209,550
209,400
209,400
68,320
57,800
57.47 + 35.30 XlO^r—7.87 xlO'^r ^
54.85 + 8.80 XlO^r—3.48 xl O^r  a
84.22 + 20.00 xl O T—25.0 0 xl O^r  2
16.37 +11.10 x i o  » r
11.22 + 8.20 xl O T—2.7 0 XlO^^r^
14.41 + 1.94xl 0 =r
13.38+ 3.68 Xl OT—3.45 xlO^^ri!
4.28 + 21.06 x l O T
14.40 + 2.04 X l O T
3.27 + 24.80 X l Os r
13.64 + 2.64 X 10^T
18.03
7.17 + 2,56xl 0 3 r + 0.08xl 0^r  2
Possible Transformations of Metakaolin
If one exami ne s t h e l i t er at ur e, h e wil l find t h a t some i nvest i gat or s obs er ve d
y al umi na; ot her s obser ve d mul l i t e; a n d a few obser ve d bot h. Consequent l y,
i n t hi s i nvest i gat i on, al l possi bl e t r ans f or mat i on s of met akaol i n wer e con
si dered. Thes e t r ans f or mat i on s ar e s hown i n Tabl e 2.
TABLE 2. POSSIBL E TRANSFORMATIONS OF METAKAOLI N AND THE CORRESPONDING
VALUE S OF AG AT 1250°K
Transformation
 AGi,
60 K
1. Al2032Si02 ^ AI2O3 (y) + 2 SiOj (glass)
2. Al2032Si02 ^ AI2O3 (y) + 2 SiO (crystalline)
3. Al2032Si02 v^ 1/3 (3AI2O325102) + 4/3 SiOj (glass)
4. Al2032SiOa ^ 1/3 (3Al2032Si02) + 4/3 SiO^ (crystalline)
5. Al2032Si02 ^ 1/4 (3Al2032Si02) + 1/4 AhO^iy) + 3/2 SiO^ (glass)
6. Al2032Si02 ^ 1/4 (3Al2032Si02) + 1/4 Al203(7) + 3/2 SiOa (cryst)
24,150
40,919
93,834
105,022
76.309
88,991
Subs t i t ut i n g t h e d a t a of Tabl e 1 i nt o t h e Gi bbs free ener g y equat i on * :
T T
AGT = AH,,, + J ACpdT  T AS,,,  T j ACpdT/T (1)
298
* Gibbs free energy equation is defined by Kubaschewski and Evans (1951, p. 25).
422 THIRTEENTH NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CLAYS AND CLAY MINERALS
equations for AG as a function of T were obtained for all possible transforma
tions shown in Table 2.
Since SiOg is a possible product, all phase transitions of silica from aquartz
to fused silica had to be considered in obtaining the AG equations for trans
formations 2, 4, and 6. The SiOg phases and their transition data are given in
Table 3. AG equations for the phase transition of silica are listed in Table 4.
TABLE 3.—TEMPERATURE S AND HEATS OF TRANSITIONS OF DI FFERENT PHASES OF
SILICA
Phase Temperatur e range AH( cal/mol
aQuartz
/3Quartz
/STridymite
y3Cristobalite
Glass
298°  848'>K
848°1140°K
1140°1743°K
1743°1953°K
1953°2100°K
290
180
30
2150
TABLE 4.— AG EQUATIONS FOR THE VARIOUS PHASE TRANSITIONS OF SILICA
SiOj (aquartz) ^ SiOj (/3quartz)
AG = 154.076 + 18.861 T ~ 3.190 Tl n T + 3.13xl O »r 2  1.35xl 05r i
SiOa (;Squartz) v^ SiO^ (/Stridymite)
AG = 602.940  5.549 T + 0.770 Tl n T  0.35 x lO^T^
SiOj (/Stridymite) ^ SiOj (;Scristobalite)
AG = 383.265 + 5.369 T ~ 0.760 Tl n T + 0.30xl 0'r 2
SiOj (/3cristobalite) ^ SiOa (glass)
AG = 837.760  6.602 T 1.020 Tl n T  0.82 xlO^T^l1.725 xl O^T i
The AG equations for all possible transformations are listed in Table 5 for
the different temperature ranges between 298°2100°K (m.p. of muUite).
Table 6 gives the Affy equations for the different transformations. Table 7
gives the Aifr equations of the phase transitions of silica up to j8tridymite.
The Most Stable Transformation
The calculated values of AG of the different transformations have been
plotted against temperature as shown in Fig. 1. Since the reaction that has the
maximum — AG is the most stable, we find that transformation 4, being the
one with the highest — AG, is the most stable. Transformation 4:
Al2032Si02 ^ l/3(3Al2032Si02) f 4/3Si02 (crystaUine)
THERMODYNAMICS OF HIGH TEMPERATURE TRANSFORMATIONS 423
TABLE 5.— AG EQUATIONS FOR THE POSSIBLE TRANSFORMATIONS OF METAKAOLI N AT
DIFFERENT TEMPERATURES
Temp, range °K AG T
1. 298 to r — 29,684  73.22r + 11.72r i n r  4.83 xl O ^r ^ + 1.71 xl O^T i
2. 298 848  44,095  lOO.BlT + 16.04r i n r  9.35 X lO^T^ + 0.96 x l O^r  i
848 1 1 4 0  43,787  62.59r + 9.66r i n r  3.09x10 ^ 2  1.74 XlO^T i
1140 1 7 4 3  4 2,5 8 1  73.69r + 11.20r i n r  3.79 xlO^T^  1.74 xl O^T i
1743 1 9 5 3  4 3,3 4 8  62.95r + 9.68Tl n r  3.19x10^X2  1.74 xlO^^Ti
1953 T — 41,672— 76.16r + 11.72r i n r  4.83 XlO^T^ + 1.72 XlO^T i
3. 298 T  103,798 — 54.33T + 8.94r i n r  1.39 xl O ^r ^ + 4.73 x l OT i
4. 298 848 — 113,406— 72.40r + 11.82r i n r  4.40 xl OsT^ + 4.23 xl O^T i
848 1140 113,201 — 47.25r + 7.56ri i i T  0.23 XlO^T^ + 2.43 xl O=r  i
1140 1743  112,397  54.65r + 8.59r i n r  0.69 x lO^r^ + 2.43 X lO^Ti
1743 1953  112,908  47.49r + 7.58r i n r  0.29 x lO^T^ + 2.43 x lO^Ti
1953 T  1 1 1,7 9 1  56.29r + 8.94r i nT  1.39 xl O'T^ + 4.73 xl Oi ^ i
5. 298 T — 85,270— 58.98r + 9.64TlnT  2.25 xlO^T^ + 3.97 xl O^r  i
6. 298 8 4 8  9 6,0 7 8  79.37r + 12.87r i n r  5.64 xlO^T^ + 3.41 xlO^^Ti
848 1140— 95,847— 51.08r + 8.09r i n r — 0.94x10^X2 + 1.39 xl O^T i
1140 1743 — 94,944— 59.40r + 9.24TlnT  1.47 xlO^T^ + 1.39 xlO^^ri
1743 1 9 5 3  95,519  51.35r + S.l OTl nr  1.02 xlO^T^ + 1.39 xl O=r  i
1953 T  94,262  61.25r + 9.63r i n r  2.25 xl O'T^ + 3.98 xlOi^Ti
TABLE 6.— AHT EQUATIONS FOR THE POSSIBLE TRANSFORMATIONS
Transformation AHT
1  29,684 11.7 2 r +4.83x10 ^X2 + 3.42 Xl O^r i
2  44,095—16.04 r +9.35x103X2 + 1.92 xl O'T i
3  1 0 3,7 9 8  8.94 r +1.39x10 3X2 + 9.45 x l OT i
4  113,406  11.82 T +4.40x103X2 + 8.45 x lO^^Xi
5  85,270  9.64 X + 2.25 X103X2 + 7.95 x lO^Xi
6  96,078  12.87 X + 5.64 x 103X2 + 6.82 x lO^Xi
TABLE 7.—• AHT EQUATIONS OF THE PHASE TRANSITIONS OF SILICA UP TO ;3TRYDIMITE
SiOj (aquartz) ^ SiOj (/Jquartz)
AHT = 154.08 + 3.19 X  3.13 x 103X2 — 2.7 xlO^X i
SiOa (/3quartz) ^ SiO^ (/3tridymite)
AHT = 602.94  0.77 X + 0.35 x 103X2
This does not mean that the other transformations do not occur; it does
mean that transformation 4 is the ultimate one, and it also means that less
stable transformations may occur before the ultimate one. In other words, by
heating, metakaolin may transform to alumina and silica, then to alumina,
28
424 THIRTEENT H NATIONA L CONFERENC E ON CLAY S AND CLA Y MINERAL S
TABL E 8.—• AH^^^o FOR THE POSSIBL E TRANSFORMATION S
Transformation ^^1250 cal/mol
 36,513
 50,936
 112,045
 121,669
 93,168
 103,973
120
AG
100
80
60
40 ^
20
KCal/mol
6 00 1200 1800 2400°K
FIG. 1. Change of free energy with temperature for all possible trans
formations.
THERMODYNAMICS OF HIGH TEMPERATURE TRANSFORMATIONS 425
silica, and muUite; and, at the end of its transformation series, it yields
muUite and silica that is in excess of the silica required for mullite.
Evaluation of Energy of Crystallization
Any exothermic peak observed on the DTA curve of kaolinite is due to a
thermoelectromotive force in the thermocouple circuit, which, in turn, is due
to a temperature difference between the sample and the inert material in the
DTA unit. The rise in the temperature of the sample occurs as a result of a
certain amount of heat being evolved during an exothermic reaction. Accord
ingly, the energy that produces the peak is the enthalpy, A//, rather than
the free energy, AG.
The exothermic peak also indicates a crystallization process so that it is
possible to calculate the energy of crystallization of the products of reactions
or transformations.
In order to calculate the energy of crystallization of alumina, silica, and
mullite at the temperature of the first exothermic peak, the values of i^H
at 1250°K should be calculated for all possible transformations.
Equations of AHy as a function of T for all possible transformations were
obtained from the calculations made to obtain AGy as functions of T.
For the first transformation,
Ai?r =  29,684  11.72r + 4.83 X lO'T^ + 3.42 x lO^Ti
For the second, fourth, and sixth transformations, where the product silica is crystallized,
the transitions of silica at different temperatures up to the temperatur e of the first
exothermi c peak must be considered.
For the second transformation,
\HT =  44,095  16.04 T + 9.35 x lO^T^ + 1.92 x lO^Ti
+ 2(154,08 + 3.19 T  3.13 x IQ'T^  2.7 x l OT i )
+ 2(602.94  0.77 T + 0.35 x lO'T^)
=  42,581  11.20 T + 3.79 x lO^T^  3.48 x lO^Ti
For t he third transformation:
^HT =  103,798  8.94 T + 1.39 x lO^T^ + 9.45 x 10=r i
For t he fourth transformation:
^HT =  113,406  11.82 r + 4.4 X lO^T^ + 8.45 x lO^Ti
+ 4/3 (154.08 + 3.19 T  Sl Sxl O'T^  a.Txl O^ri )
+ 4/3 (602.94  0.77 T  0.35 XlO^T^)
=  112,397  8.59 T + 0.69xl0~»r 2 + 4.85 xl O^r  i
For the fifth transformation,
AHr =  85,270  9.64 T + 2.25 xlO^T^ + 7.95 xl O*r  i
For the sixth transformation,
Aflj, =  96,078  12.87 T + 5.64xl 0=r 2 + 6.82xl 05r  i
4 3/2 (154.08 + 3.19 T  3.13 x l O T"  2.7 xl O^r  i )
+ 3/2 (602.94  0.77 T + 0.35 xlO^T^)
=  94,942  9.24 T + 1.47 xl O'T^ + 2.77 xl O^r  i
Substituting 1250° for T, the temperatur e of the first exothermi c peak in degrees Kelvin
in the AHy equations of all transformations, we obtai n t he values of Ai^ijso foi" ^^
transformations as shown in Table 8.
426 T HI RT E E NT H NATI ONA L CONF ERENC E ON CLAYS AND CLAY MI NERAL S
Using the calculated values of AH^^^i^ one can form the six following simultaneous
equations:
Ea
114 E,
1/4 £„
or
Ea
Ea
Ea
Ea
+ 2£,
4/3 £,
+ 3/2 E,
+ 2E,
4 £ s
+ (>Es
+ 1/3 itm
+ 1/3 E^
+ 1/4 Em
+ 1/4 En,
Em
+ Em
+ Em
+ Em
= — 36,513 cal per mol
= — 50,936 cal per mol
= — 112,045 cal per mol
= — 121,669 cal per mol
= — 93,168 cal per mol
= — 103,973 cal per mol
= — 36,513 cal per mol
= — 50,936 cal per mol
= — 336,135 cal per mol
= — 365,007 cal per mol
= — 372,672 cal per mol
=  415,892 cal per mol
where Ea, Es, and E„, are the energies of crystallization of yalumina, crystalline silica
and muUite respectively.
Having six equations and three unknowns, a 3by5 matri x can be formed to solve for
Ea, Es, and Em
1
1
0
0
1
1
0
2
0
4
0
6
0
0
1
1
1
1
This 3by6 matri x can be reduced t o the following 3by3 matrix:
(
1 0 0\ I Ea \ I ~ 36,513 \
0 1 0 I £, = / _ 7,199
0 0 1/ \ Em I \ 336,180 /
Therefore, the average values of the energies of crystallization are:
Ea = — 36,513 cal per mol
Es = — 7,199 cal per mol
Efn = —336,180 cal per mol
Comparing the energy of crystallization of muUite to that of alumina, muUite
has an energy of crystallization at the first exothermic peak that is nine
times that of yalumina.
Contributions of the Product Phases to the Exothermic Energy at 125Q°K.—
From the values of the energies of crystallization of muUite and crystalline
silica at 1250°K and the mol fractions involved in the most stable transfor
mation, it is possible to calculate the contributions of muUite and crystalline
silica to the exothermic energy at 1250°K.
THERMODYNAMICS OF HIGH TEMPERATURE TRANSFORMATIONS 427
Contribution of muUite = 1/3 x 336,180= 112,060 cal
Contribution of silica = 4/3 x 7,199 = —9,600 cal
Exothermic energy at 1250°K = 112,060  9,600
= 121,660 cal
Percentage contribution of mullite
= (112,060/121,660) X 100 = 92 per cent
Percentage contribution of silica
= (9,600/121,660) X 100 = 8 per cent
CONCLUSI ON
The interpretations of all previous investigators concerning the first
exothermic DTA peak were based on experimental observations. However,
the experimental observations were different and caused disagreement among
different investigators. Since the differential thermal analysis technique is
based on energy changes that accompany any thermal reaction, the inter
pretation should be based on the thermodynami c considerations.
The calculated freeenergy changes of the possible transformations of
metakaolin indicate that:
1. The most stable transformation at any high temperature is the one that
yields mullite rather than yalumina or both mullite and yalumina.
2. The energy of crystallization of mullite at 980°C (—336,180 cal per mol)
is about nine times as much as that of yalumina at the same temperature
(—36,513 cal per mol).
Adding to these results the fact that the crystallization of yalumina is very
slow, as observed experimentally, it is unlikely that the crystallization of
yalumina, under such conditions, can liberate energy rapidly enough to
produce such a sharp exothermic peak as the one observed at 980°C. On the
contrary, mullite, with its much higher crystallization energy and rapid
growing rate, is very probably the phase that is responsible for that peak.
REFERENCES
BRINDLEY, G. W., and HUNTER, K. (1955) Thermal reactions of nacrit e and the forma
tion of metakaolin, alumina and mullite, Mineral. Mag., 30, 57484.
BRINDLEY, G. W., and NAKAHIRA, M. (1958) A new concept of transformation sequence
of kaolinit e to mullite. Nature, 181, 1333^.
BuDNiKov, P. P., and MCHBDLOVPETROSYAN, O. P. (1960) Thermodynamics of changes
undergone by kaolinit e when heated. Trans. Brit. Ceram. Soc, 59, 47982.
CoMEFORO, J. E., FISHER, R. B., and BRADLEY, W. F. (1948) Multization of kaolinite,
/. Am. Ceram. Soc. 31, 2549.
CouGHLiN, J. B. (1954) Contribution to the dat a on theoretical metallurgy, XI I. Heat s
and free energies of formation of inorgani c oxides, U.S. Bur. Mines Bull. 542.
GLASSNER, A. (1959) Thermodynami c properties of the oxides, chlorides and fluorides
to 2500°K, Atomi c Energy Commission, Argon National Laboratory, ANL 5750,
Univ. Chicago.
428 THI RTEENTH NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CLAYS AND CLAY MINERALS
HoDGMAN, C. D., and others (1960) Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 41st. ed.
Chemical Rubber Publishing Company, Cleveland, Ohio.
HYSLOP, J. F. (1944) Decomposition of clays by heat. Trans. Brit. Ceram. Soc. 43, 4951.
INSLEY, H., and EWELL, R. H. (1935) Thermal behavior of kaolin minerals, /. Res.
Nat. Bur. Std. 14, 61527.
JAY, A. H. (1939) AluminosiUcate refractories. Trans. Brit. Ceram. Soc, 38, 45560.
JOHNS, W. D. (1953) High temperature phase changes in kaolinite. Mineral. Mag. 30,
18698.
KELLY, K. K. (1960) Contributions to the data on theoretical metallurgy XIII. High
temperature heat content, heat capacity and entropy data for elements and
inorganic compounds, U.S. Bur. Mines Bull. 584.
KUBACHEWSKI, O., and EVANS, E. L. (1951) Metallurgical Thermodynamics, Academic
Press, New York.
RICHARDSON, H. M., and WI LD, F. G. (1952) An Xray study of crystalline phases t hat
occur in fired clays. Trans. Brit. Ceram. Soc. 51, 387400.
VAUGHAN, F. (1955) Energy changes when kaolin minerals are heated. Clay Minerals
Bull. 2, 26574.
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