Zeolite: A magical mineral

Zeolites are hydrated aluminosilicate minerals made from interlinked tetrahedra of alumina (AlO4) and silica (SiO4). In simpler words, they’re solids with a relatively open, three-dimensional crystal structure built from the elements aluminum, oxygen, and silicon, with alkali or alkaline-Earth metals (such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium) plus water molecules trapped in the gaps between them. Zeolites form with many different crystalline structures, which have large open pores (sometimes referred to as cavities) in a very regular arrangement and roughly the same size as small molecules. There are about 40 naturally occurring zeolites, forming in both volcanic and sedimentary rocks; according to the US Geological Survey, the most commonly mined forms include chabazite, clinoptilolite, and mordenite. Dozens more artificial, synthetic zeolites (around 150) have been designed for specific purposes, the best known of which are zeolite A (commonly used as a laundry detergent), zeolites X and Y (two different types of faujasites, used for catalytic cracking), and the petroleum catalyst ZSM-5 (a branded name for pentasil-zeolite).


Zeolite is also being used in agriculture, it provides a source of slowly released potassium. Zeolith supplements are now being sold, one particular one is liquid zeolite. Zeolites are natural and synthetic hydrated crystalline aluminosilicates endowed with absorptive and ion exchange properties. They have found numerous and multifarous applications–in industry as catalysts and absorbents, in water sanitation for the removal of ammonia and heavy metals, in agriculture as fertilizers, and in animal husbandry as the absorbents of excreted material and as food additives. Medical applications have included the use in filtration systems for anesthesia or dialysis and as the contrast materials in NMR imaging. Recently, zeolite powders for external use have found application as deodorants, antimycotic agents and wound dressings. Zeolites can also be used as solar thermal collectors and for adsorption refrigeration. Their high heat of adsorption and ability to hydrate and dehydrate is exploited while maintaining the structural stability. This hygroscopic property along with an inherent exothermic reaction, while transitioning from dehydrated to a hydrated form, make the natural zeolites effective in the storage of solar and the waste heat energy. Zeolite is a unique antioxidant. A traditional antioxidant works by absorbing excess free radicals into its system because it has an impaired electron. In contrast, zeolite traps free radicals in its complex structure, inactivating and eliminating them. Visit http://www.zeocem.de/ for more information.