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Academic year
Didactic period
Primo Semestre

Training objectives

The objectives of this course are to help to define the emerging subject of enviromental and applied mineralogy, and to provide an initial source of information to the analytical, experimental and computational methods that are of importance in enviromental mineralogy. Finally, the aim of this course is also to study the natural and synthetic materials used as gemstones and to introduce the tools used by gemologists for the identification and grading of different gemstones.
At the end of the course the student should be able to: understand the concept of raw material and be able to assess the importance of raw materials in the context of global socio-economic; able to classify natural raw materials; understand the concept of secondary raw material; classify and understand the physico-chemical properties and technology of the most common raw materials clay and clay, microporous and mesoporous materials ; know the different types zeolites, their physical and chemical properties, and their applications and their industrial applications; learn the fundamental concepts and methods to perform the full characterization of a raw material for ceramic use, as well as for environmental applications; know the experimental techniques and methodologies for obtaining and interpreting experimental data of thermal analysis; learn the fundamental concepts and methods to perform the full characterization of a material for gemological use.
After completing this class, students will be able to operate on the territory or in laboratories, to characterize natural and synthetic materials, to identify areas to test innovative methods and materials, to organize control measures of the quality of the environment.


Knowledges of mineralogy,crystallography and crystal chemistry and optics of minerals

Course programme

This course will introduce the student to the basic concepts required to apply mineralogy to environmental problems. The aim is to illustrate through several case-studies the complexity of the environmental problems from the point of view of the analytical and instrumental approach, the understanding of the physico-chemical mechanisms, and the interpretative methodologies of the processes.
In particular they will be processed
a) clays: crystal structure, crystal chemistry, absorption properties, ionic exchange properties, methods of analysis (thermal analysis and XRD). Their use as colloids in environmental applications (8 hours of lectures).
b) ceramic materials: structure, crystal chemistry and characterization by thermal analysis and X-ray diffraction of the raw materials used. Transformation processes during cooking. XRD characterization of Randomly Oriented and oriented Aggregate samples, Ethylene Glycol Treatment;Heat Treatments (8 hours of lectures + 2 hours of practical training on the lecture and interpretation of thermal analysis)

c) Microporous materials: zeolites. Crystal structure, crystal chemistry, absorption properties, ionic exchange properties, catalysis. Relations between structure and properties. Cation exchange capacity of zeolites. Their use in environmental (depuration of wastewater and contaminated sites), industrial applications (cracking of hydrocarbons), and in agriculture (10 hours of lectures).
d) metal-organic materials (metal organic frameworks, MOF): structure, composition and applications (4 hours of lectures).
e) meso and macroporous materials: synthesis, characterization, structure and applications. Activated carbon and their use as a means adsorbent (4 hours of lectures).
f) What is a gemstone. Naming and Measuring Gems. Physical Properties of Gems. Optical Properties of Gems. Magnification and What it Reveals. Optical Phenomena in Gemstones. Gem Fashioning. Gem Enhancement Synthetics and Simulants. The tools used by gemologists for the identification and grading of different gemstones: binocular microscope, the refractometer, the polariscope, the spectroscope, the ultraviolet (UV) light source. Determination of the hardness and specific gravity. Definition and inspection of inclusions. IR and Raman spectroscopies. The 4 C's of diamonds; Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight (8 hours of lectures + 4 hours of practical training on the use of gemological standard instruments)

Didactic methods

The course is structured in 24 lessons (2 hours for lesson, total 48 hours).In detail :
• classroom lectures on the topics of the course (42 hours) ;
• lessons concerning the use of the standard gemological instruments ( 4 hours)
• lecture on the thermal analysis with a demonstration of the technique ( 2 hours) ;

Learning assessment procedures

Oral examination with the objective to verify the level of knowledge concerning theoretical and practical aspects covered during the course . In particular , the questions asked by the teacher will focus on industrial processes studied , structures and characteristics of the industrial minerals, the mineralogical and structural changes that occur during processing and the chemical and mineralogical methods studied . The oral test willalso be formulated taking into account the ability to link between the needs required by industrial processes, the raw materials and analytical techniques to be used both on raw materials and finished product . It will be evaluated the ability of exposure and the adequacy of the technical language used

Reference texts

Manning D.A.C. - Industrial Minerals - Chapman & Hall, 1995.
R. Webster: Gemme. Zanichelli, 1997.
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