Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 50, Issue 23, pp 7713–7724 | Cite as

Synthesis and properties of inorganic polymers (geopolymers) derived from Bayer process residue (red mud) and bauxite

  • Siti Noor Md. Hairi
  • Guy N. L. Jameson
  • Joanne J. Rogers
  • Kenneth J. D. MacKenzie
Original Paper


Well-reacted geopolymers with good compressive strengths (44–58 MPa) were formed from highly alkaline residue from red mud (the residue remaining after extraction of alumina from bauxite by the Bayer Process) without the addition of strength-promoting components, such as fly ash or ground slag, by adjusting the composition to an optimal SiO2/Al2O3 ratio of about 3 with silica fume. The formation of these geopolymers is extremely energy-efficient since thermal dehydroxylation of the red mud is not required. The environment of the Si and Al in the geopolymers was shown by 27Al and 29Si NMR spectroscopy to be consistent with reasonably well-reacted aluminosilicate materials, suggesting that the red mud forms geopolymers by reaction of aluminate and silicate species in a process not dissimilar to that of alkali-activated kaolin. The presence of high concentrations of iron in the red mud principally in the form of hematite did not interfere with geopolymer formation, since it was shown by XRD and Mössbauer spectroscopy to remain largely unaltered and not participate in the reaction. Analogous experiments with bauxite from which red mud is derived by alkali treatment, produce geopolymers of significantly lower strength (up to 28 MPa), suggesting that the action of the alkali during bauxite processing facilitates the formation of the geopolymer binder, possibly by increasing the reactivity of the red mud, as occurs in alkali-treated kaolinite.


Compressive Strength Geopolymer Silica Fume Boehmite Gibbsite 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



SNMH acknowledges the tenure of a Malaysian Government (MARA) Scholarship, and JJR acknowledges the tenure of a PhD Scholarship from the Victoria University of Wellington. We are indebted to Jeanette See, Rio Tinto Alcan for kindly supplying the red mud and to Ray L. Frost, Queensland University of Technology, for the Weipa bauxite.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siti Noor Md. Hairi
    • 1
  • Guy N. L. Jameson
    • 2
  • Joanne J. Rogers
    • 1
  • Kenneth J. D. MacKenzie
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Chemical and Physical SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry and MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and NanotechnologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and NanotechnologyVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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