Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Science- (M.S.)


Chemical Engineering and Chemistry

First Advisor

Howard S. Kimmel

Second Advisor

Leonard Dauerman

Third Advisor

Richard B. Trattner


A previous study(1) showed that a combination of acidic and basic sorbents in a layered system is required to reduce to safe levels the contaminants present in the leachates emanating from industrial landfills. The sorbents used were fly ash, vermiculite, kaolinite, illite, zeolite, apautagite, bentonite, activated carbon and bauxite.

The purpose of this investigation is to study the physical properties, elemental composition and the distribution of the aforementioned solid sorbents. Properties of interest are particle size, shape and distribution and also the chemical composition and the distribution of the elements within the sample particles.

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and X-ray Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) were used in this study of two fly ash and eight clay samples. This study revealed the particle size distribution and the minimum average and maximum particle size of each sample. Also, the morphological details of particles such as surface roughness, micro and macro pores and cracks were illustrated by the SEM micrographs.

Elemental X-ray images and X-ray energy spectra were obtained and show the elemental distribution in each sample and the variations in their concentration between the sample particles. The X-ray images and X-ray energy spectra also illustrated the relationship between the particle shape and its chemical composition.

Area scans were obtained to illustrate the general chemical composition of the sample, while point scans were obtained to show the elemental composition of some individual particles. These two methods served to point out the difference between the particle elemental composition and other particles in the same sample. Finally, by using the X-ray images and X-ray energy spectra, simple phase analysis could be obtained.



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