Abstract

This study aims to find alternatives to some overexploited deposits in the north of Tunisia. The clays of the Sidi Khalif formation, of Uppermost Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous age, seem suitable to support this strategy, due to their abundance. In terms of mineralogy, they can be divided into two distinct groups, related to their palaeogeographic and eustatic contexts. The clays of the Sidi Khalif formation from Jebel Houareb (JH) and Jebel Meloussi (JM) are richer in clay minerals, while those of Jebel Rhouis (JR) and Jebel Boudinar (JB) zones are dolomite-rich. The compositional differences between the two groups influenced their technological behaviour in production of ceramic tiles. Upon firing, forsterite and gehlenite crystallized in the carbonate-rich JR and JB clays, whereas mullite formed in the JH and JM clays. Concerning their ceramic properties, the tiles made from JR or JB clays showed low bending strength and high water absorption. For JH and JM, the tiles had slightly greater mechanical resistance, but exhibited considerable linear shrinkage. These defects were partially corrected by introducing new formulations based on the same clays and by altering the firing cycles (HM1, HM2, RB1 and RB2). With these modifications, “Porcelanico” and “Monoporosa” technologically conforming tiles were obtained from HM2 and RB2 formulations, respectively.

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