Synthetic zeolites are manufactured aluminosilicate minerals with a sponge-like structure, made up of tiny pores (frameworks) that make them useful as catalysts or ultrafine filters. They are commonly known as molecular sieves and can be designed to selectively adsorb molecules or ions dependant on their unique construction and have the ability to be regenerated over and over again for re-use (recycled).
Zeolites act much like a magnet that can hold cations, like heavy metal, ammonia, low level radioactive elements, toxins, petrochemicals, many different types of gases and a multitude of various solutions.
The selectivity properties of different synthetic zeolites enable them to be effective in wastewater treatment applications, water filters and as ion exchangers in many everyday dishwashing and laundry detergents.
Zeolites play an important role in a cleaner and safer environment.
- zeolites are an effective substitute for harmful phosphates in powder detergent, now banned in many parts of the world because of blue green algae toxicity in waterways
- as catalysts zeolites increase process efficiencies = decrease in energy consumption
- zeolites can act as solid acids and reduced the need for more corrosive liquid acids
- zeolites adsorbent capabilities see them widely used in water treatment i.e. heavy metal removal including those produced by nuclear fission
- as redox catalyst sorbents (zeolites) can help remove exhaust gases and CFC’s
Our proprietary mineral processing technology also presents as a potential commercial remediation solution for suitable mine tailings/residues, by applying tail streams as feed for low cost production of high value zeolites.
Synthetic zeolites can be manufactured for specific applications in a range of industrial environments, the primary types are:
Zeolite A is a sodium aluminosilicate and is utilized as a builder in tablets and detergent powders for the water softening in washing process. This type of zeolite is also known as Linde Type A (LTA), which belongs to the aluminosilicate molecular sieves family. Sodium ions present in zeolite A can be replaced with other cations, including potassium, lithium, and calcium. There are around 150 synthetic zeolites designed for the specific purposes. However, the most common type is zeolite type A, which include:
- 4A applications include a detergent builder and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) heat stabiliser. 4A molecular sieve with uniform pore size of 3 angstroms can be used for the deep drying of air, natural gas, alkaline, refrigerants and other gases and liquids.
- 3A is a molecular sieve that has a pore size that is 3 angstroms (3A), hence it will not adsorb any molecules larger than 3A. It is a very effective and reliable desiccant (drying agent) and is used in a wide variety of commercial applications, some of which include, natural gas drying, refrigerant drying, moisture removal in polyurethane plastic/paint, static drying of insulating glass units and is also applied in method of drying that is used by fuel ethanol producers.
- 5A is a molecular sieve that has a pore size that is 5 angstroms (5A). It cannot adsorb any molecules smaller than 5A and primary applications are separation of alkane types, co-adsorption of carbon dioxide and moisture, along with pressure swing adsorption (PSA) for gases.
Zeolite X belongs to Faujasite family which are used as catalysts and sorbents. There are several different types of zeolite X dependent on pore size. It is mainly used in the gas drying applications, however, it has a variety of industrial applications, including gas separation and adsorption, besides being utilized as a catalyst. Zeolite X ion exchange properties also make it effective in removing toxins from wastewater. One key type of zeolite X is:
- 13X has larger pore size than Type A zeolites (circa 10 angstroms) and is primarily used in types of air refining (ie removing carbon dioxide and water), removal of grease and solvents and in gas pressure swing adsorption.
Zeolite Zsm-5 belongs to pentasil family of zeolites . This type of zeolite is extensively utilized in the petroleum sector as a heterogeneous catalyst. It is comprised of numerous pentasil units combined together to form pentasil chains by oxygen bridges. These pentasil chains form corrugated sheets with interconnected oxygen bridges. ZSM-5 main applications are in fine chemical production processes.
Zeolite Y is utilized as a fluid cracking catalyst of heavy petroleum distillates to increase the yield of diesel and gasoline fuel from crude oil. Zeolite Y is among the most popular catalysts due to its properties, such as good hydrothermal stability and inherent surface acidity. The hydrothermal and thermal stability of the zeolite Y is associated with its silica and alumina ratio that plays crucial role in materials produced for applications, such as catalytic cracking catalysts in the oil industry.
- Detergent builder
- PVC heat stabiliser
- Moisture removal / drying across a range of substances
- Separation and purification ie Water treatments and air purification
- Cracking processes ie Oil and Gas industry
- Insulating glass units
- Animal feed supplements
Synthetic zeolites play an important role as ion exchangers in many everyday laundry detergents, assisting to remove calcium and magnesium and soften water so they work more effectively. Synthetic zeolites are sought after as a detergent builder as they present an environmentally friendly substitute for toxic phosphates (which are banned in the USA, Europe, Australia and some parts of Asia).
The rise in adoption of synthetic zeolite based adsorbents in major end use industries including water treatment, chemicals and petrochemicals particularly in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Latin America has boosted the growth of the market and this is expected to continue over the next decade.
Rising environmental concerns regarding wastewater health hazards have triggered regulatory bodies across the globe to mandate the use of synthetic zeolite based adsorbents. The stringent regulatory norms specifically in the U.S. and Europe to disinfect both water and air have also been boosting the demand for adsorbents*
Synthetic zeolite is also used as PVC heat stabilisers, catalyst in the pharmaceutical and petroleum industries, in catalytic crackers to break large hydrocarbon molecules into gasoline, diesel, kerosene and waxes.
They also have potential applications as inputs in animal feed supplements, as mycotoxin adsorbents.
*Verified Market Research “Global Synthetic Zeolite Market Size & Forecast to 2026”