The alkaline hydrothermal processing of K-feldspar rocks in an autoclave can be a pathway to synthesize a potassium fertilizer for tropical soils that is potentially cheaper and more efficient than traditional potash (KCl). When K-feldspar undergoes hydrothermal alteration in the presence of calcium oxide (CaO), it generates a complex mixture of calcium-aluminum-silicate-hydrate (CASH) minerals that incorporate K atoms stochastically in their structure. These atoms are subsequently released, as shown in a test-tube leaching test, indicating a possible uptake by crops. The relationship between the processing temperature and time in the autoclave for the hydrothermal reaction and the resulting mineralogy and elemental release are only partially understood and are investigated in this study. Elucidating that relationship is the key requisite for subsequent techno-economic analysis, and ultimately for the development of a fertilizer that can be considered as a feasible alternative to KCl.
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2020) 37:955–963, https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-020-00233-6