The production and industrial use of asbestos cement and other asbestos-containing materials have been restricted in most countries because of the potential detrimental effects on human health and the environment. Chrysotile is the most common form of asbestos and investigations into how to recycle this serpentine phyllosilicate mineral have attracted extensive attention. Chrysotile asbestos tailings can be transformed thermally, at high temperature, by in situ carbothermal reduction (CR). The CR method aims to maximize use of the chrysotile available and uses high temperatures and carbon to change the mineral form and structure of the chrysotile asbestos tailings. When chrysotile asbestos is employed as the raw material and coke (carbon) powder is used as the reducing agent for CR transformation, stable, high-temperature composites consisting of forsterite, stishovite, and silicon carbide are formed. Forsterite (Mg2SiO4) was the most abundant crystalline phase formed in samples heat treated below 1500°C. At 1600°C, forsterite was exhausted through decomposition and β-SiC formed by reduction of stishovite. A larger proportion of β-SiC was generated as the carbon content was increased. This research revealed that both temperature and carbon addition play key roles in the transformation of chrysotile asbestos tailings.

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