High purity alumina is usually prepared using various intermediate aluminium compounds such as aluminium nitrate, aluminium alkoxides etc., as precursors. In fact the above mentioned intermediate aluminium compounds themselves are produced from aluminium metal. The present investigation is concerned with examining the feasibility of using aluminium hydroxides prepared by hydrolyzing aluminium metal, for sol gel processing. The study assumes added significance in view of the claims of Alcoa that it is possible to produce high purity aluminium metal in large quantities economically.
During the present investigation sols were prepared by using various hydroxides, ie., bayerite, gibbsite and boehmite. Sol gel transition was observed only in the case of boehmite sol and this was gelated by either forced gelation method to prepare powder or controlled gelation method to prepare monoliths.
Transparent Xerogels (boehmite) could be prepared by controlled gelation method but the presence of a thin layer of bayerite often resulted in translucency. Crack free monoliths could be prepared by heating the xerogels at a low heating rate(< 1 °C/min). It was found that sol gel processed boehmite transformed to alpha alumina at a relatively lower temperature (∼ 1080 °C ) than the as prepared boehmite which transformed at about 1200 °C.