Relationships Between Smelter Grade Alumina Characteristics and Strength Determined by Nanoindentation and Ultrasound-Mediated Particle Breakage


The mechanical strength of smelter grade alumina (SGA) is of considerable practical significance for the aluminum reduction process. Attrition of alumina during transportation and handling generates an increased level of fines. This results in generation of dust, poor flow properties, and silo segregation that interfere with alumina feeding systems. These lead to process instabilities which in turn result in current efficiency losses that are costly. Here we are concerned with developing a fundamental understanding of SGA strength in terms of its microstructure. Nanoindentation and ultrasound-mediated particle breakage tests have been conducted to study the strength. Strength of SGA samples both industry calcined and laboratory prepared, decrease with increasing α-alumina (corundum) content contrary to expectation. The reducing strength of alumina with increasing degree of calcination is attributed to the development of a macroporous and abrasion-prone microstructure resulting from the ‘pseudomorphic’ transformation of precursor gibbsite during the calcination process.

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The authors acknowledge the generous support of Outotec GmbH.

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Correspondence to Hasini Wijayaratne.

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Manuscript submitted December 18, 2016.

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Wijayaratne, H., McIntosh, G., Hyland, M. et al. Relationships Between Smelter Grade Alumina Characteristics and Strength Determined by Nanoindentation and Ultrasound-Mediated Particle Breakage. Metall Mater Trans A 48, 3046–3059 (2017).

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  • Gibbsite
  • Environmental Scan Electron Microscopy
  • Particle Breakage
  • Transition Alumina
  • Particle Size Distribution Measurement