Abstract

Thirty clay samples collected from three hills in Koutaba (west Cameroon) were characterized in order to evaluate their potential use as raw materials for ceramics. After preliminary mineralogical identification by X-ray diffraction, three representative samples from the three different hills, referred to hereafter as K1M, K2M and K3M, were selected for further investigation by X-ray fluorescence, plasticity, granularity and thermogravimetric analysis. The main clay minerals are kaolinite (32–51%) and illite (up to 12%). Additional major phases are quartz (32–52%), goethite (6–7%) and feldspars (0–4%). The chemical composition showed variable amounts of SiO2 (60–72%), Al2O3 (15–20%) and Fe2O3 (1–9%), in accordance with the quartz abundance in all of the samples studied. The particle-size distribution showed a large proportion of silty fraction (64–88%) with moderate sandy (9–19%) and clayey fractions ( < 5% for K2M, 12% for K1M and 20% for K3M). All of the clays showed moderate plasticity-index values (8–11%). Because of these characteristics, K1M and K3M may be suitable for use in common bricks and hollow ceramic products. Sieving or the addition of ball clays is recommended to increase the plasticity of sample K2M for use in common bricks.

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