Document Type : Research Article


1 School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia

2 Department of Physics, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia


A low thermal diffusivity SiO2-based ceramic was fabricated by sintering Malaysia agricultural waste rice husk at 800 °C. This paper presents the effect of sintering temperatures on the phase transformation, microstructure and thermal diffusivity of rice husk ash (RHA) as a thermal insulating material. A series of SiO2-based ceramics were fabricated from rice husk via two sintering stages. Rice husk was pre-sintered at 700 °C and then ground into powder. The RHA powder was compacted into pellets and then re-sintered at a single temperature between 700 and 1400 °C. Sintering of the RHA induces phase transformation from amorphous silica to crystalline α-cristobalite, α-tridymite and β-tridymite. The thermal diffusivities of RHA were evaluated using the laser flash analysis technique. The results indicate RHA-800 °C has the lowest thermal diffusivity, which is 0.17 ± 0.1 mm 2 s −1 at 25 °C. The RHA particle morphologies were observed using a field-emission scanning electron microscopy. Low-frequency vibrational modes of silica such as lattice vibration were investigated using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy technique. X-ray fluorescence result indicated that RHA-800 °C contains ~90 wt % of SiO2.