Zeolites: A group of naturally occurring, hydrous aluminosilicate minerals with a unique porous crystal structure. Economically mineable deposits of these minerals primarily form through the alternation of volcanic ash in desert lake systems.
Due to their unique porous crystal structure, Zeolites are capable of absorbing large amounts of water and other substances. This occurs mainly in the interior of the mineral crystals, not on the surface. On the molecular level, holes and channels in the structure account for this phenomenon. The channel size, specific for each mineral species, controls what can enter the crystal. For this reason, Zeolites are commonly referred to as “molecular sieves”.
Certain cations in the crystal structure are exchangeable. Depending on concentration and other characteristics, cations in solution may exchange for the sodium, potassium, and calcium which naturally occur in the mineral. In general, Zeolites prefer, or are selective for, larger cations such as metals, ammonia, radionuclides and a variety of organic molecules. This makes natural Zeolites useful for many applications such as water treatment and agriculture.
In agriculture, natural Zeolites give excellent performance as a soil amendment, and improve the utilization of nutrients and water. Clinoptilolite, a specific zeolite mineral, increases the feed efficiency for many animals.
As an absorbent material, Zeolites have been used for solidification of hazardous wastes and cleaning up other pollutants. It also works well as an oil and grease absorbent and as an odor absorber for animal bedding.
Zeolites can provide the raw material for ceramics, paper, and other products as functional filler. They also have fire-retardant properties. Their thermal absorption characteristics also allow their use in solar-powered heating and cooling systems.
Gas absorption and catalytic properties may allow the use of natural Zeolites for dealing with many airborne pollutants. They can absorb many oxides of sulfur and nitrogen. Zeolites can also absorb moisture from air, giving excellent performance as a desiccant for many applications.
With research and use, continual discovery of new uses occurs. Many remain in the research and development stage, but are coming into wider use as Zeolites prove their effectiveness.
- Animal Feed
- Odor Control
- Adsorbing Various Radionuclides and Other Contaminants
- Adsorbing Heavy Metals and Ammonia
- Carrier for Fungicide
- Carrier for Water Filtration