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Water Adsorption Isotherms on Fly Ash from Several Sources

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journal contribution
posted on 07.09.2017, 00:00 by Juan G. Navea, Emily Richmond, Talia Stortini, Jillian Greenspan
In this study, horizontal attenuated total reflection (HATR) Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy was combined with quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) gravimetry to investigate the adsorption isotherms of water on fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion in power plants. Because of composition variability with the source region, water uptake was studied at room temperature as a function of relative humidity (RH) on fly ash from several regions: United States, India, The Netherlands, and Germany. The FT-IR spectra show water features growth as a function of RH, with water absorbing on the particle surface in both an ordered (ice-like) and a disordered (liquid-like) structure. The QCM data was modeled using the Brunauer, Emmett, and Teller (BET) adsorption isotherm model. The BET model was found to describe the data well over the entire range of RH, showing that water uptake on fly ash takes place mostly on the surface of the particle, even for poorly combusted samples. In addition, the source region and power-plant efficiency play important roles in the water uptake and ice nucleation (IN) ability of fly ash. The difference in the observed water uptake and IN behavior between the four samples and mullite (3Al2O3·2SiO2), the aluminosilicate main component of fly ash, is attributed to differences in composition and the density of OH binding sites on the surface of each sample. A discussion is presented on the RH required to reach monolayer coverage on each sample as well as a comparison between surface sites of fly ash samples and enthalpies of adsorption of water between the samples and mullite.