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Facts at Your Fingertips: Zeolites

By Department Editor: Scott Jenkins |

The physical properties of zeolites make them extremely important in many industrial processes. This one-page reference provides information on the structure and chemistry of zeolites that allows their use in the chemical process industries (CPI). Zeolite structure Zeolites are a class of hydrated aluminum silicates made up of silica and alumina tetrahedra (SiO4 and AlO4 linked in a tetrahedral configuration). The linked tetrahedra form complex three-dimensional structures with large, cage-like cavities and channels (Figure 1). Zeolites have open, non-dense structures — 20–50% of a zeolite’s volume is void space. Zeolites’ uniform framework of pores can be exploited to control chemical reactions by adsorbing reactant molecules within the zeolite pores. Certain reaction pathways will be favored based on the shape and chemical composition of the zeolite pores. Figure 1. The linked silica and alumina tetrahedra of zeolites create cage-like cavities and channels that can be exploited to control chemical reactions[/caption] There are 45 types of naturally occurring zeolites, but their structures and properties are limited from an industrial perspective. Most industrial uses employ one or more of the close to 200 synthetic…
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