Giacomo Diego Gatta, Antonio Brundu, Piergiulio Cappelletti, Guido Cerri, Bruno de’ Gennaro, Mauro Farina, Patrizia Fumagalli, Lorenzo Guaschino, Paolo Lotti, Mariano Mercurio
Physics and Chemistry of Minerals, 2016, 43(9), 639-647
A Cs-bearing polyphase aggregate with composition (in wt%): 76(1)CsAlSi5O12 + 7(1)CsAlSi2O6 + 17(1)amorphous, was obtained from a clinoptilolite-rich epiclastic rock after a beneficiation process of the starting material (aimed to increase the fraction of zeolite to 90 wt%), cation exchange and then thermal treatment. CsAlSi5O12 is an open-framework compound with CAS topology; CsAlSi2O6 is a pollucite-like material with ANA topology. The thermal stability of this polyphase material was investigated by in situ high-T X-ray powder diffraction, the combined P–T effects by a series of runs with a single-stage piston cylinder apparatus, and its chemical stability following the “availability test” (“AVA test”) protocol. A series of additional investigations were performed by WDS–electron microprobe analysis in order to describe the P–T-induced modification of the material texture, and to chemically characterize the starting material and the run products. The “AVA tests” of the polyphase aggregate show an extremely modest release of Cs+: 0.05 mg/g. In response to applied temperature and at room P, CsAlSi5O12 experiences an unquenchable and displacive Ama2-to-Amam phase transition at about 770 K, and the Amam polymorph is stable in its crystalline form up to 1600 K; a crystalline-to-amorphous phase transition occurs between 1600 and 1650 K. In response to the applied P = 0.5 GPa, the crystalline-to-amorphous transition of CsAlSi5O12 occurs between 1670 and 1770 K. This leads to a positive Clapeyron slope (i.e., dP/dT > 0) of the crystalline-to-amorphous transition. When the polyphase aggregate is subjected at P = 0.5 GPa and T > 1770 K, CsAlSi5O12 melts and only CsAlSi2O6 (pollucite-like; dominant) and Cs-rich glass (subordinate) are observed in the quenched sample. Based on its thermo-elastic behavior, P–T phase stability fields, and Cs+ retention capacity, CsAlSi5O12 is a possible candidate for use in the immobilization of radioactive isotopes of Cs, or as potential solid hosts for 137Cs γ-radiation source in sterilization applications. More in general, even the CsAlSi5O12-rich aggregate obtained by a clinoptilolite-rich epiclastic rock appears to be suitable for this type of utilizations.