Up
Products
Distributors
Research
Contacts
Zeoponic Technology
Zeolite

Zeolite:  The Versatile Mineral

Zeolite is a naturally occurring mineral group consisting of over 50 different minerals.  Made of a special crystalline structure that is porous but remains rigid in the presence of water, zeolites can be adapted for a variety of uses.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Aquaculture

  • Ammonia filtration in fish hatcheries
  • Biofilter media

Agriculture

  • Odor control
  • Confined animal environmental control
  • Livestock feed additives

Horticulture

  • Nurseries, Greenhouses
  • Floriculture
  • Vegetables/herbs
  • Foliage
  • Tree and shrub transplanting
  • Turf grass soil amendment 
  • Reclamation, revegetation, landscaping
  • Silviculture (forestry, tree plantations)
  • Medium for hydroponic growing

Household Products

  • Household odor control
  • Pet odor control

Industrial Products

  • Absorbents for oil and spills
  • Gas separations

Radioactive Waste

  • Site remediation/decontamination

Water Treatment

  • Water filtration
  • Heavy metal removal
  • Swimming pools

Wastewater Treatment

  • Ammonia removal in municipal sludge/wastewater
  • Heavy metal removal
  • Septic leach fields

And many more.........For help with your application, give us a call or send us a message

Line

Exactly what are Zeolites?
       
Compositionally, zeolites are similar to clay minerals.  More specifically, both are alumino-silicates.  They differ, however, in their crystalline structure.  Many clays have a layered crystalline structure (similar to a deck of cards) and are subject to shrinking and swelling as water is absorbed and removed between the layers.  In contrast, zeolites have a rigid, 3-dimensional crystalline structure (similar to a honeycomb) consisting of a network of interconnected tunnels and cages.  Water moves freely in and out of these pores but the zeolite framework remains rigid.  Another special aspect of this structure is that the pore and channel sizes are nearly uniform, allowing the crystal to act as a molecular sieve.  The porous zeolite is host to water molecules and ions of  potassium and calcium, as well as a variety of other positively charged ions, but only those of appropriate molecular size to fit into the pores are admitted creating the "sieving" property.

Picture

CLINOPTILOLITE FRAMEWORK MODEL

VIEW ALONG CLEAVAGE PLANE OF CRYSTAL PLATES

            One important property of zeolite is the ability to exchange cations.  This is the trading of one charged ion for another on the crystal.  One measure of this property is the cation exchange capacity (CEC).  Zeolites have high CEC's, arising during the formation of the zeolite from the substitution of an aluminum ion for a silicon ion in a portion of the silicate framework (tetrahedral units that make up the zeolite crystal).  High CEC plays a vital role in several ZeoponiX, Inc. products such as "ZeoPro" specialty turf amendment.

"ZeoPro"

All Zeolites are NOT the same!
When developing applications for zeolites, it is important to remember that not all of these minerals are the same.  Some help to assist plant growth while others make excellent filtration media, but the same zeolite will not necessarily do both well.  It is critical to understand how zeolites differ so that only the appropriate types and source materials are selected for each application.
        There are nearly 50 different types of zeolites (clinoptilolite, chabazite, phillipsite, mordenite, etc.) with varying physical and chemical properties.  Crystal structure and chemical composition account for the primary differences.  Particle density, cation selectivity, molecular pore size, and strength are only some of the properties that can differ depending on the zeolite in question.  For example, clinoptilolite, the most common natural zeolite, has 16% more void volume and pores as much as 0.2 nm larger than analcime, another common zeolite.  It is important to know the specific type of zeolite one is using in order to assure that it is appropriate for one's needs.  ZeoponiX, Inc. has the staff expertise to assist you with your zeolite application.

       Variations not only occur between different types of zeolites but also in the physical and chemical properties of zeolites of the same group.  Source plays a large role in these variations.  For instance, clinoptilolite from one source will not necessarily have the same properties as clinoptilolite from another distinct source.  Environmental conditions during and following the geologic genesis of each source are rarely the same, causing these variations.  The types and number of impurities present and the way in which the zeolites are cemented together are all dependent on the unique conditions during formation.
        Finally, one difference between zeolites worth giving special mention is the composition of exchangeable cations residing in the zeolite.  Exchange sites on natural zeolites are primarily occupied by 3 major cations: potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and sodium (Na) (other elements such as magnesium (Mg) may also be present).  Exchange sites on a particular zeolite may contain nearly all K, nearly all Na, some Ca or Mg, or a combination of these.  It is important to take these differences into account when assessing which zeolite to use for a particular product.  Zeolites dominated by exchangeable K for example, may be well-suited for plant growth applications while those dominated by Na should be approached much more carefully as Na in high concentrations can be  detrimental to plants.

Zeoponic Materials

While zeolites have several properties that make them highly useful minerals, they can be chemically modified to make them even more effective.  In fact, one of the most successful uses of zeolites have been in "zeoponic" systems that utilize modified natural zeolite rather than strictly raw natural zeolite.  The best example of this is zeolite used for plant growth applications.  By changing the composition of the ion exchange sites and by "loading" the sites with selected nutrient cations, zeolites can become an excellent plant growth medium.  Other enhancements can also be done to modify the properties.  Combined with slowly dissolving materials (such as synthetic and/or natural nutrient anions), these nutrient-enhanced zeoponic materials supply plant roots with additional vital nutrient cations and anions.  Most importantly, these nutrients are provided in a slow-release, plant root demand-driven fashion.  How does it work?  Basically, the process is a combination of dissolution and ion exchange reactions.  The absorption of nutrients from the soil solution by plant roots drives the dissolution and ion exchange reactions, pulling away nutrients as needed.  The zeolite is then "recharged" by the addition of more dissolved nutrients.  In effect, zeoponic systems increase nutrient retention, reduce environmental nutrient losses and reduce fertilizer requirements by establishing a replenishable and balanced nutrient supply in the plant root zone. 

 "ZeoPro"

ZeoponiX holds the exclusive rights to patents and other technology developed in cooperation with NASA which cover the formulation of nutrient-loaded zeolites and other nutrient ingredients which produces "zeoponic" plant growth media.  This is  now available to the public in the form of "ZeoPro" turf and horticultural amendment.  Please refer to our "Products"  section of this website to learn more about "ZeoPro".

Copyright 2000 by ZeoponiX, Inc. and Boulder Innovative Technologies, Inc.
P.O. Box 19105, Boulder, CO 80308 USA   (303) 673-0098

ZeoponiX, Inc., P.O. Box 19105 Boulder, CO 80308 USA
Voice: 303-673-0098 -
Email:
zeoponix@ZeoponiX.com