Valorisation of ilmenite mud waste in the manufacture of commercial ceramic


This paper reports the results of a study focused on the production of ceramic tiles from ilmenite mud (MUD), a waste generated by the industry devoted to the TiO2 pigment production. Ceramic tiles were produced from mixtures of a commercial red stoneware mixture (RSM) with different concentrations of mud (3, 5, 7, 10, 30 and 50 wt.%). The samples were sintered to simulate a fast-firing process. The sintering behaviour of the fired samples was evaluated according to ISO methodologies by linear shrinkage, water absorption and porosity measurements. Both green powder and fired samples were characterised by means of X-ray diffraction (XRD), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC/TG), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) and bending strength measurements. Moreover, since this activity is a NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) industry, the radionuclides activity concentrations were measured by both gamma and alpha spectrometry techniques. Finally, the TCLP leaching test (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure, USEPA) was performed to assess the risks of the use of undissolved mud tiles from an environmental perspective. The results obtained demonstrated that ilmenite mud can be successfully valorisated in the manufacture of red stoneware ceramic bodies, with even better technological properties than commercial ones. The addition of mud as additive (from 3% to 10%) had a beneficial effect to the sintering processes, improving the bending strength (up to 15%) and reducing both apparent porosity and water absorption (up to 50%).