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                                         Information @ a Glance

General

  • Cryolite (Na3AlF6, sodium hexafluoroaluminate) is an uncommon mineral identified with the once large deposit at Ivigtût on the west coast of  Greenland, which ran out in 1987.
  • It was historically used as an ore of aluminium and later in the electrolytic processing of the aluminium rich oxide ore bauxite .
  • The difficulty of separating aluminium from oxygen in the oxide ores was overcome by the use of cryolite as a flux to dissolve the oxide mineral.
  • Cryolite itself melts below 900°C (1173 Kelvin) and can dissolve aluminium oxides sufficiently well to allow easy extraction of the aluminium by electrolysis.

Process

  • The anodic behavior of metals in molten cryolite-alumina melts has been investigated mostly for use as inert anodes for the Hall-Héroult process.
  • Cryolite is the principal mineral of the aluminium fluoride lpouP, and the only one to be of any commercial importance.
  • Cryolite is a double fluoride of sodium and aluminum, found as a mineral in southern Greenland. As no other important deposit has been found, the supply is limited, and only two or three manufacturers using this process are in operation, one of which is in this country.
  • Aluminium is produced by the electrolysis of alumina dissolved in cryolite-based melts. Cryolite and aluminium fluoride also contain sulphur, mainly as sulphates.

Application

  • Cryolite has been used as a pesticide.
  • The cryolite increases the conductivity and consequently the electricity yield.
  • Multiple applications of Cryolite during the growing season significantly increase fluoride in wines. Therefore, Cryolite application rate and timing are critical to ensure adequate insect control and minimize fluoride residues.
  • The resultant alumina (Al2O3) is dissolved in molten cryolite (Na3AlF6), forming an ionic and electrically conductive solution. The aluminium produced is subsequently alloyed depending on the required end-product.

Report

  • Cryolite has also been reported at Pikes Peak, Colorado; Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec; and at Miass, Russia. It is also known in Brazil, Czech Republic, Namibia, Norway, Ukraine, and several U.S. states.
  • Cryolite was first described for an occurrence in Ivigtut and Arksukfiord, West Greenland. The name is derived from the Greek cryò = chill and lithòs = stone.
  • Research at California State University, Fresno has shown that certain applications of Cryolite can significantly increase the amount of fluoride in wines.

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