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Anal Chem. 2007 Jun 15;79(12):4455-62. Epub 2007 May 15.

Powder X-ray thermodiffraction study of mirabilite and epsomite dehydration. Effects of direct IR-irradiation on samples.

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Department of Mineralogy and Petrology, Faculty of Science, University of Granada, Avda. Fuentenueva s/n, 18002 Granada, Spain.


This paper investigates the thermal and irradiation-dependent dehydration and kinetics occurring in Na2SO4.10H2O (mirabilite) and MgSO4.7H2O (epsomite) at room conditions by using powder X-ray thermodiffraction. An improved version of a first optically stimulated X-ray diffractometer prototype was used. Specific software for the thermodiffraction study was developed (XPowder PLUS) and a filter inserted between the lamp (heating system) and the sample. The results show that these salts are thermal and irradiation sensitive. The temperature and kinetic rates of the salt conversions differed depending on direct exposure to high-intensity radiation (photodehydration) or whether the radiation was blocked by the filter (thermodehydration). In general, radiation-induced dehydration triggers the transformation at lower temperature and accelerates the kinetic reaction more than when the filter is used. Mirabilite dehydration starts with the initial radiation impacts, unlike epsomite. Thermodehydration and photodehydration of mirabilite is a non-isothermal reaction occurring through an amorphous-mediated step. Radiation damage in epsomite leads to isothermal dehydration, whereas non-isothermal dehydration occurs when epsomite is thermally damaged. In both cases, no amorphous material was observed. Because of the weaker bond between cation and oxygen atom in mirabilite, its thermal and radiation stability is lower than in epsomite. These results have important implications for the prevention of salt weathering of porous materials found in the cultural heritage.

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