Form and stability of aluminum hydroxide complexes in dilute solution

Water Supply Paper 1827-A




Laboratory studies of solutions 4.53 x 10 -4 to 4.5 x 10 -5 molal (12.2-1.2 ppm) in aluminum, in 0.01 molal sodium perchlorate, were conducted to obtain information as to the probable behavior of aluminum in natural water. When the solutions were brought to pH 7.5-9.5 and allowed to stand for 24 hours, a precipitate was obtained which was virtually amorphous as shown by X-rays, and which had a solubility equivalent to that of boehmite. This precipitate had a hydrolysis constant (*Ks4) of 1.93 x 10 -13a. When solutions were allowed to stead at this pH range for 10 days, their precipitates gave the X-ray pattern of bayerite (*Ks4 = 1.11 > (10- 4). These hydrolysis constants were obtained at 25?C. and corrected to zero ionic strength and are in close agreement with other published values. The predominant dissolved form in this pH range is Al(OH) -4. Below neutral pH (7.0) the dissolved aluminum species consist of octahedral units in which each aluminum ion is surrounded by six water molecules or hydroxide ions. Single units such as Al(OH2)6 + 3 and AlOH(OH2)5+2 are most abundant below pH 5.0, and where the molar ratio (r) of combined hydroxide to total dissolved aluminum is low. When r is greater than 1.0, polymerization of the octahedral units occurs. When r is between 2.0 and 3.0, solutions aged for 10 days or more contained colloidal particles between 0.10 and 0.45 ? in diameter. Particles whose diameters were greater than 0.10 ? were identified by X-ray diffraction as gibbsite. Particles smaller than 0.10 ? were also present and were shown by means of the electron microscope to have a hexagonal crystal pattern. Structured material consisting of sheets of coalesced six-membered rings of aluminum ions held together by double OH bridges has a distinctive kinetic behavior. This property was used to determine amounts of polymerized material in solutions having r between 1.0 and 3.0 after aging times ranging from a few hours to more than 4 months. Aging increased the size and orderliness of the polymeric aggregates and was accompanied by a decrease in the pH of the solution. The kinetic experiments and stoichiometric data for solutions aged for long periods provided a means of determining activities of polymerized aluminum. From these values the solubility product for microcrystalline gibbsite was determined to be 2.24 x 10 -3, and its free energy of formation, -? 272.3 0.4 kcal per mole. Where polymerization was observed, the process did not stop with small polynuclear complexes containing a few aluminum ions, but proceeded with aging until macromolecules or colloidal-sized particles were formed.

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Form and stability of aluminum hydroxide complexes in dilute solution
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Water Supply Paper
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U.S. G.P.O.,
iv, 55 p. :ill. ;24 cm.