Carbothermic reduction of alumina into a metallic solvent phase

Caizergues, Derek
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Experiments have been conducted at around 17000C to determine the whether carbothermic reduction of alumina is possible at these temperatures. Total pressure of the system was reduced to around 30 kPa and various metallic solvents such as copper, nickel, iron and tin were used to dissolve the metallic aluminium produced. The use of a solvent (and hence decreasing the activity of metallic aluminium) and a lower pressure are thermodynamic requirements to increase the extent of reduction under a given set of conditions. This enables the use of lower temperatures than are required under atmospheric conditions. The highest recovery of aluminium was achieved with the nickel solvent decreasing in order from iron, copper and tin. This ranking was also in accord with the extent of deviation from ideality in the respective binary solutions of these solvents with aluminiur, The nickel-aluminium system displays the largest negative deviation from ideality whereas the till, aluminium system showed a positive deviation. The rate and extent of the reduction was found to be highly dependent on temperature and pressure. The pseudo first order reaction rate was found to be the primary order for the reduction of aluminium in all the solvents used. It is also suggested that the reduction rate was controlled primarily by chemical reaction rate father than by transport processes. This is due to the extreme sensitivity of the rate and extent of the reaction to temperature.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Engineering. Johannesburg, 1998.
Caizergues, Derek (1998) Carbothermic reduction of alumina into a metallic solvent phase, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>