Zeolites are used as catalysts in many industrial chemical processes, as separating agents for chemical substances and as water softeners in detergents.
The starting materials for synthetic zeolites are sodium silicate (water glass), silica gel or silicic acid (as a source of silicone), and aluminium hydroxide or other aluminium salts (as a source of aluminium). The type of zeolites produced by the reaction mix depends on various factors, e.g. the composition of the reaction mix, stirring rate and crystallization temperature.
Zeolites are crystalline aluminosilicates that occur naturally or can be manufactured synthetically. They have a microporous structure comprising AlO4 and SiO4 tetrahedra, the aluminium and silicon atoms being linked together by oxygen atoms. Depending on zeolite type, this produces a regular pore and/or channel structure in which substances can be absorbed.