Properties and applications of zeolites

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Black plate (223,1) Science Progress (2010), 93(3), 223–284 doi: 10.3184/003685010X12800828155007 Properties and applications of zeolites CHRISTOPHER J. RHODES ABSTRACT Zeolites are aluminosilicate solids bearing a negatively charged honeycomb framework of micropores into which molecules may be adsorbed for environmental decontamination, and to catalyse chemical reactions. They are central to green-chemistry since the necessity for organic solvents is minimised. Proton-exchanged (H) zeolites are extensively employed in the petrochemical industry for cracking crude oil fractions into fuels and chemical feedstocks for other industrial processes. Due to their ability to perform cation-exchange, in which the cations that are originally present to counterbalance the framework negative charge may be exchanged out of the zeolite by cations present in aqueous solution, zeolites are useful as industrial water-softeners, in the removal of radioactive Cs þ and Sr2 þ cations from liquid nuclear waste and in the removal of toxic heavy metal cations from groundwaters and run-off waters. Surfactant-modified zeolites (SMZ) find particular application in the co-removal of both toxic anions and organic pollutants. Toxic anions such as arsenite, arsenate, chromate, cyanide and radioactive iodide can also be removed by adsorption into zeolites that have been previously loaded with co-precipitating metal cations such as Ag þ and Pb2 þ which form practically insoluble complexes that are contained within the zeolite matrix. Keywords: zeolite, cation-exchange, Chernobyl, radioactive waste, stron- tium, strontium, caesium, catalytic cracking, oil, petroleum, solid acid catalysts, iodine, cadmium, lead, zinc, surfactant-modified zeolites, decon- tamination, pollution www.scienceprogress.co.uk 223

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