Few reports exist on the use of Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform Spectrometry coupled with Mass Spectrometry (DRIFTS-MS) in situ to monitor the dehydroxylation of kaolinitic clays. The use of DRIFTS-MS in situ allows study of the effect of heat treatment on the dehydroxylation, identifying intensities and temperatures at which the hydroxyl groups are released, forming metakaolinite and meta-alunite. The effluent gases from the infrared cell were analysed by mass spectrometry. The decrease in intensity of the bands at 3694, 3669, 3650 and 3621 cm–1 associated with the –OH stretching vibration modes of AlVI–OH–AlVI of kaolinite began at 450°C. Two additional bands at 3513 and 3485 cm–1 are associated with the vibration of AlVI–OH of alunite that also began to disappear during thermal treatment. Monitoring of the fractions m/e 17 and 18 using a mass spectrometer revealed that the intensity of these fractions increased starting at 450°C. Therefore, it is possible to study the dehydroxylation process of clays during thermal treatment. Chemical and mineralogical characterization of a kaolinitic clay (KN) from Mexico showed that the clay consists of 64.8% kaolinite, 11.0% alunite and 24.4% quartz based on PXRD, EDS, TG/DTA, TEM and FTIR results, and suggested that the material might have potential for use in the manufacture of ceramics, refractory bricks or geopolymers.

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