Inhibition of aluminum oxyhydroxide precipitation with citric acid


Dabbs, D. M. ; Ramachandran, U. ; Lu, S. ; Liu, J. ; Wang, L. Q. ; Aksay, I. A. Inhibition of aluminum oxyhydroxide precipitation with citric acid. Langmuir 2005, 21, 11690-11695.

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Citric acid has been shown to act as an agent for increasing the solubility of aluminum oxyhydroxides in aqueous solutions of high (>2.47 mol/mol) hydroxide-to-aluminum ratios. Conversely, citric acid also colloidally stabilizes particles in aqueous suspensions of aluminum-containing particles. Solutions of aluminum chloride, with and without citric acid added, were titrated with NaOH(aq), The presence and size of particles were determined using quasi-elastic light scattering. In solutions that contained no citric acid, particles formed instantaneously when NaOH(aq) was added but these were observed to rapidly diminish in size, disappearing at OH/Al ratios below 2.5 mol/mol. When the OH/Al ratio was raised beyond 2.5 by adding more NaOH(aq), suspensions of colloidally stable particles formed. Large polycations containing 13 aluminum atoms were detected by Al-27 solution NMR in citric-acid-free solutions with OH/Al ratios slightly lower than 2.5. In comparison, adding citric acid to solutions of aluminum chloride inhibited the formation of large aluminum-containing polycations. The absence of the polycations prevents or retards the subsequent formation of particles, indicating that the polycations, when present, act as seeds to the formation of new particles. Particles did not form in solutions with a citric acid/aluminum ratio of 0.8 until sufficient NaOH(aq) was added to raise the OH/Al ratio to 3.29. By comparison, lower amounts of citric acid did not prevent particles from forming but did retard the rate of growth.