Bayer process, procedure for obtaining alumina from the aluminum ore bauxite. The alumina can then be used for various industrial purposes or smelted to provide aluminum. The first step in the process is the mixing of ground bauxite into a solution of sodium hydroxide. By applying steam and pressure in tanks containing the mixture, the bauxite slowly dissolves. The alumina released reacts with the sodium hydroxide to form sodium aluminate. After the contents of the tank have passed through other vessels where the pressure and temperature are reduced and impurities are removed, the solution of sodium aluminate is placed in a special tank where the alumina is precipitated out. The precipitate is removed from the tank, washed, and heated in a kiln to drive off any water present. The residue is a commercially pure alumina.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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