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Hydrothermal Synthesis of Alpha Alumina (α-Al2O3) Powders: Study of the Processing Variables and Growth Mechanisms

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Alpha alumina (α-Al2O3) powders and α-Al2O3/boehmite (-AlOOH) mixtures with controlled -AlOOH contents were synthesized hydrothermally under alkaline or acidic conditions at 380°–435°C for 1–10 days, under 6.9–14.5 MPa pressure, from concentrated precursors without stirring. The precursors were formed by mixing different types of aluminum hydroxides with water, and optionally with α-Al2O3 seeds, hydrogen peroxide, sulfuric acid, dopants (i.e., KMnO4), and/or other additives. The experiments were performed on industrial scale in large production autoclaves. The synthesized α-Al2O3 powders exhibited up to 100% phase purity, 99.98% chemical purity, equiaxed morphology, low aggregation levels, narrow crystallite size distributions with primary particle sizes ranging between 100 nm and 40 m, and high reproducibility. Precursor types, seeds, chemical additives, and temperature/time of the hydrothermal synthesis were found to govern properties of the powders. Different growth mechanisms for nanosized and rough powders are discussed. Results of this study enable the use of hydrothermal α-Al2O3 powders in a multitude of applications, and make their hydrothermal production a commercial reality.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sawyer Technical Materials LLC, Eastlake, Ohio 44095

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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