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Study of the Hydration Behavior of Synthetic Ferropericlase with Low Iron Oxide Concentrations to Prevent Swelling in Steel Slags


Steel slags generally swell when subjected to water or humidity, which prevents proper recycling in the cement or asphalt industries. The MgO and CaO phases in steel slags are responsible for this phenomenon, as both minerals easily absorb water to form their respective hydroxides. MgO is often present in steel slags in a solid solution with several oxides, constituting the so-called RO phase. This study investigates the hydration rate of an RO phase consisting of FeO and MgO called ferropericlase. The material was synthesized in a laboratory furnace by sintering a FeO–MgO powder mixture with varying initial FeO contents (approximately 10, 15, and 20 wt%). Thereafter, electron probe micro-analyzer (EPMA) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) spectroscopies were used to characterize the structure of the samples, which were mainly composed of ferropericlase and an exsolution of magnesioferrite. Also, Mössbauer spectra showed that the total ferrous iron proportion (Fe2+/ΣFe) of the sintered samples was in the range of 0.55–0.72. To measure the hydration behavior, the samples in powder form were cured in an autoclave at an H2O partial pressure of 2 atm. Thereafter, thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) was performed to measure the amount of water absorbed during the autoclave curing from the mass drop associated with the dehydration of the hydroxide. The study found a linear correlation between the initial FeO content and the weight loss after TGA, with a reduction down to 6% in the sample with an initial FeO content of 20 wt% content compared to pure MgO.

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We would like to thank Prof. Ryo Inoue (Akita University) for the fruitful discussion and helpful advice on the methodology of autoclave curing of ferropericlase. We appreciate the technical support by Dr. Shingo Ishihara (Tohoku University) and Mr. Takashi Kamaya (Tohoku University) for the PSD and EPMA analysis of the samples, respectively. The Mössbauer measurements were performed at Nagoya Institute of technology under the Nanotechnology Platform Program of MEXT, Japan.


Funding was provided by JFE Steel Corporation.

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Correspondence to Mattia De Colle or Sohei Sukenaga.

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The contributing editor for this article was Sharif Jahanshahi.

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De Colle, M., Sukenaga, S., Mibu, K. et al. Study of the Hydration Behavior of Synthetic Ferropericlase with Low Iron Oxide Concentrations to Prevent Swelling in Steel Slags. J. Sustain. Metall. 7, 547–558 (2021).

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  • Ferropericlase
  • Hydration
  • Slag
  • Recycling
  • RO phase
  • Free MgO