Abstract

Raw clay materials manufactured for stoneware use are typically compounds of kaolins, silicas and feldspars. Two stoneware clay materials examined here were chosen because each is representative of the range of manufactured clay bodies. Samples were fired in an oxidizing atmosphere to a range of temperatures between ~1000 and 1300°C. Sample dimensions, density, porosity and mechanical properties under compression were measured as a function of firing temperature. Thin sections, showing particles and their relationship to pore/void structures, were prepared, recorded under scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and analysed. The observed changes in microstructure can be related to previously described metamorphic and micro-eutectic reactions and a gradual sintering process. Indications of changes to apparent porosity are further amplified by measured changes of mechanical properties. The modulus of elasticity increases with reduction in porosity to a point at which porosity ceases to be the principal determining factor. The critical Griffith’s crack length, calculated from fracture-strength measurement, exhibits a similar trend. The onset of these changes coincides with a significant increase in sealed porosity and with the microstructural metamorphosis as revealed by SEM.

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