Kaolinite intercalated with potassium acetate is of great interest in the areas of environmental remediation and industrial application; however, its exact atomic structure and the changes which occur when heated have remained largely elusive. Here, neutron pair distribution function analysis is used to investigate the local structural characteristics of this complex material, revealing that hydrated potassium acetate exists as a single layer in the interlamellar spacing of kaolinite. Furthermore, the potassium ions within the intercalated complex are most likely associated with the resonance structure of the acetate molecules, and upon heating (and decomposition of the carbon containing molecules), these ions become strongly associated with the negative charge located on the oxygen atoms in the alumina layers of dehydroxylated kaolinite. Several possible orientations of hydrated potassium acetate within the interlamellar spacing of kaolinite have been proposed and investigated using density functional modeling, revealing the complex nature of this material. Nevertheless, this investigation has shown that the dehydroxylated form of the intercalated compound contains highly strained alumina and available alkali (potassium), making it a viable alternative to traditional aluminosilicates.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Materials Chemistry