Adsorption of acetic, oleic, benzoic, and salicylic acids on submicrocrystalline aluminum hydroxide samples is investigated in aqueous solutions. Experimental infrared and Raman spectroscopic data are analyzed to determine the reactivity of the monocoordinated hydroxyl groups located on the edge faces of bayerite or gibbsite crystals. Two key parameters were (1) the effect of concentration of aqueous solutions of the acids, and (2) the variation in specific surface areas of different samples of bayerite and gibbsite powders. Strong preferential adsorption to bayerite was observed over the whole pH range. No adsorption to gibbsite was detected. Data from the literature indicate that acetate, oleate, and benzoate form bidentate complexes on bayerite while salicylate forms a monodentate complex. The infrared spectra show that only monocoordinated hydroxyl groups are reactive, in the bayerite samples, and the band at 1020 cm<sup>-1</sup> corresponds to the deformation mode of the monocoordinated hydroxyl groups whose stretching vibration was at 3465 cm<sup>-1</sup>. It is suggested that the specific surface areas given by the adsorption isotherms is a condition necessary for adsorption, but not sufficient in itself. Adsorption requires the presence of AlOH<sub>2</sub><sup>+1/2</sup> species as well as the presence of steps or of a packaging sequence ABABABA rather than a packaging sequence ABBAABBA of the hydroxyl planes. The gibbsite impurity present in the bayerite sample reacted completely, while the lateral OH in the gibbsite sample did not, reflecting the lower reactivity in gibbsite relative to extended domains of bayerite.
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