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    Nepheline (Kola Peninsula)

    Encyclopedia Arctica 10: Soviet North, Geography and General

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_X-0184                                                                                                                  

    Form for receipt of article "Nepheline (Kola Penin.)"

    001      |      Vol_X-0185                                                                                                                  


            NEPHELINE, a grey, clayey mineral chemically resembling feldspar, has

    been commercially developed chiefly on the Kola Peninsula (cf.) of the

    Soviet European Arctic, where virtually inexhaustible deposits (at

    least ten billion tons) have been found in preponderant admixture with

    apatite (cf.) as a result of a unique geological phenomenon. As it

    contains 34% aluminum oxide, its most important use is as [ ?] an ore

    for the extraction of that metal. Two plants, one deriving 40,000 tons

    of aluminum oxide annually, and another 20,000, have been erected on

    the peninsula. Other uses are [ ?] extraordinarily varied. In agri–

    culture it is used as a lime-calcium fertilizer on sour peaty soils,

    reducing acidity. It is extremely important in the growing of flax.

    Its uses stem from the fact that, other than aluminum oxide, it contains

    44% quartz and 22% potassium and sodium oxide (alkali). Fifteen branches

    of industry rely upon it as their main raw material. The first to apply

    it was the ceramic and porcelain industry, where, being cheaper, it

    ousted feldspar in the manufacture of high-quality porcelain for insu–

    lators, sewage pipes, etc. Then the glass industry used it as a [ ?]

    [ ?] source of soda, breaking the monopoly of the Solvay concern, from which

    Russia had had to buy it, and saving much-needed foreign exchange.

    Thirdly, a chemist, Belov, discovered how to use nepheline products as

    a substitute for tannin, which Russia had also imported to a value of

    millions of dollars annually. Its value in this connection is that it

    dissolves readily in a weak acid solution and is free of silica gel.

    The leather is soaked with a nepheline solution and later treated with

    ferrous salts. This process imparts the toughness, elasticity and other

    properties formerly obtained solely by the use of tanin. Nepheline has

    cut by five-sixths to seven- [ ?] eighths the cost of tanning reagents

    per given quantity of finished leather.

            In the textile industry nepheline is used as a substitute for the

    much more [ ?] alum and sulphate of aluminum. Its ready

    001      |      Vol_X-0186                                                                                                                  
    NEPHELINE is [ ?] a gray, clayey mineral used [ ?]

    as an aluminum ore; as a raw material for the production of tanning

    extracts, dyes and cement; as a substitute for feldspar (which it re–

    sembles chemically) in the manufacture of high-quality porcelain for

    insulators and sewage pipes.

    002      |      Vol_X-0187                                                                                                                  

    Solubility makes it an inexpensive source of alkali-aluminum [ ?] salts,

    and renders it valuable in the production of fast dyes. It waterproofs

    wood and fabrics, strengthens rubber tires, is used as an alkali in

    the [ ?] enamel industry, substitutes for silica gel in oil refining,

    and has also found practical application in the [ ?]

    the manufacture of grinding and polishing materials and in the

    purification of water. In the chemical industry it is used as a source

    of [ ?] soda, potash, alum, potassium hydrate, sodium hydrate, ultra–

    marine and other products.

            As indicated by these [ ?] various use, nepheline is itself complex and

    is usually found in combination with other chemicals, aside from its

    admixture with apatite. This is because it occurs in extruded forma–

    tions, of nepheline syenite containing strong alkalis

    and weak silicic acid and nepheline basalts. The Artificial mineral

    nepheline is NaAlSiO 4 , but the empirical formula of nepheline in nature

    is (Na,K) AlSiO 4 ·nSiO 2 , where n=0÷0.25. Customary admixtures in nature

    include CaO, sometimes Fe 2 O 3 , Cl and H 2 O. A brittle mineral, nepheline crystallizes in

    hexagonal syngonies, is of a hardness of 5.5 to 6, and specific gravi–

    ty of 2.58 to 2.64. [ ?] Other than in the Khibiny Mts. of

    the Kola Peninsula, it forms entire mountain ranges in the Ilmen sec–

    tion of the Urals (Miass County) and the Vishnevye district (Kaslin

    County) also in the Urals. It has also been discovered near Zeravshan

    in Soviet Central Asia and in the Tunkin Mts. of eastern Siberia.

            For industrial development and processing, see Apatite and Khibiny .


    William Mandel


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