Acid Sulfation of Alunite
Description:The U.S. Bureau of Mines conducted laboratory studies on sulfuric acid (H2S04) digestion of alunite [KA13(S04)2(OH)6] as a means for treating domestic deposits of this mineral. Digesting alunite ore in boiling H2S04 at concentrations of 88-wt-pct acid or higher breaks down the alunite and permits a convenient separation of potassium and aluminum. The digestion reaction is a complex sulfation reaction occurring in two stages. In this reaction, the potassium component extracts into the H2S04 for eventual recovery as potassium sulfate k2s04 in a separate unit operation. Aluminum is left as acid-insoluble aluminum sulfate [A12(S04)a], which can be extracted by a 95° C water leach. Additional purification of AI2(S04)a produced in this study is needed to meet cell-grade alumina (Al202) purity specifications. Extraction and separation of potassium and aluminum from the alunite ore were consistently above 90 pct.
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