Porous tablets of crystalline calcium carbonate via sintering of amorphous nanoparticles
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Porous tablets of crystalline calcium carbonate were formed upon sintering of a precursor powder of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) under compressive stress (20 MPa) at relatively low temperatures (120-400 °C), induced by pulsed direct currents. Infrared spectroscopy ascertained the amorphous nature of the precursor powders. At temperatures of 120-350 °C and rates of temperature increase of 20-100 °C min-1, the nanoparticles of ACC transformed into crystallites of mainly aragonite, which is generally difficult to achieve using wet-chemicals under kinetic control. The amorphous precursor particles (~10 nm) transformed into crystallites (~30-50 nm) during sintering. Consistently, the specific surface areas of 140-160 m2 g-1 for the precursor particles were reduced to 10-20 m2 g-1 for the porous tablets. The porous network within the tablets consisted of fused aragonite and vaterite particles in a ratio of ~80:20. The fraction of aragonite to vaterite was invariant to the temperature and rate of temperature change used. The particle size increased only to a small amount on an increased rate of temperature change. At temperatures above 400 °C, porous tablets of calcite formed. The later transformation was under thermodynamic control, and led to a minor reduction of the specific surface area. The size of the crystallites remained small and the transformation to calcite appeared to be a solid-state transformation. Porous, template- and binder-free tablets of calcium carbonate could find applications in for example, biology or water treatment. © 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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