The Upgrading Of An Inferior Grade Zircon To Superior Opacifier For Sanitary Ware And Glazes
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 2005
The upgrading process of an inferior grade of zircon to a superior opacifier for ceramic applications was investigated. A calcining process in the presence of mineralizers was used to produce the product in a conventional muffle furnace. A pre-milled inferior grade zircon concentrate, with a relatively high iron and alumina content generally not suitable for high quality ceramic applications, was used in this study. The influence of the upgrading process on the opacifying properties of the zircon material was compared to that of commercially available prime grade zircon opacifier products currently being produced in South Africa. The influence of a calcining step in the presence of mineralizers with regard to the milling characteristics of the treated zircon material was also evaluated in this study. The morphology of the treated and untreated zircon opacifier samples were investigated by SEM micrographs and the colours of zircon samples were characterized on the grounds of the Commission Internationale de l`Eclairage (CIE) standard procedure (CIE L* a* b* measurements) after application on a bisque ceramic tile. It was found that the treatment improved both the milling as well as the opacifying properties of the treated inferior grade zircon concentrate and renders it equivalent to or better than prime grade zircon opacacifiers currently produced. Keywords: ZrSiO4; opacifier; colour; milling; calcining.