Brief Glossary

Adsorbent
A substance (usually, a clay-like) capable of adsorption. Adsorbents attract and hold molecules of other substances onto their solid surfaces.
Adsorption
Physical adhesion, in an extremely thin layer of molecules, of vapor or dissolved matter to the surface of a solid. Adsorption takes place at the interface between the liquid and the solid states. The adsorption effect is used for separation of various mixes of gaseous and liquid mixes of substances, drainage and rectification of gases and liquids.
Attapulgite
A naturally occurring clay mineral of very fine particle size, consisting of complex magnesium aluminum silicates. It is also known as Palygorskite and is closely related to Sepiolite mineral. Attapulgite is named after Attapulgus, Georgia, one of the few places where it occurs. Unlike bentonite (or montmorillonite), attapulgite crystals are needle shaped (acicular) rather than flat or flake-like. Like bentonite they disperse well to thicken, suspend and gel suspensions without flocculation problems. Natural attapulgite can be readily transformed into products that have adsorptive and thickening properties for use in paints, adhesives, sealants and agricultural products. The high surface area of attapulgite (and sepiolite) gives it the ability to absorb large amounts of water or oil and enables its wide use in the oil drilling and pet litter markets, as well as for other industrial applications as a plasticizer and suspender.
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Bentonite
A colloidal clay, resulting from the weathering of volcanic ash and consisting essentially of montmorillonite, a hydrous aluminum silicate. Because of its gel forming properties, bentonite is a major component of water-based drilling muds. The material has the unique quality of absorbing large quantities of water. It can be used in cement, adhesives, and ceramic fillers. It is named after Benton Formation (at one time Fort Benton Formation) in the eastern Wyoming's Rock Creek area.
Synonym: bentonitic clay
Bentonitic clay
A clay with fine-sized particles that consists of 60-70 % montmorillonite group minerals, having high adhesive, adsorptive and catalytic properties.
Hydration
An addition reaction in which water, H-OH, is added to the substance. The reverse reaction is called dehydration. Hydration can create a hydrate from which water can be reextracted. When hydration occurs in a chemical reaction it is called a hydration reaction, in which water is permanently and chemically combined with a reactant in a way that it can no longer be reextracted.
Dispersity, dispersion
A numeric index related to the size and distribution of colloidal particles that constitute a substance. The higher is the dispersity index, the smaller is the size of the particles.
Ion exchange
A process which involves substitution of one ion, either cation or anion, for another of the same charge when a solution containing ions is passed into a molecular network having either acidic or basic substituent groups which can be readily ionized. The ions in the solution attach themselves to the network, replacing the acidic or basic groups.
Montmorillonite
A soft opaque clay mineral composed of aluminium silicate that expands when it absorbs liquids. Montmorillonite group is represented by clay minerals having a 2:1 expanding crystal lattice. Isomorphous substitution gives the various types and causes a net permanent charge balanced by cations in such a manner that water may move between the sheets, giving reversible cation exchange and very plastic properties. Montmorillonite is used in decolouring solutions, as a base for paper and cosmetics, etc. Named after Montmorillon in France where it was found in the 19th century.
Synonyms: bentonite, discoloring clay, Fuller's earth, Nalchikite.
Palygorskite, Palygorskit
A fibrous clay mineral composed of two silica tetrahedral sheets and one aluminum and magnesium octahedral sheet that make up the 2:1 layer that occurs in strips. The strips that have an average width of two linked tetrahedral chains are linked at the edges forming tunnels where water molecules are held. Palygorskite is most common in soils of arid regions. Also referred to as attapulgite. Unlike attapulgite, paygorskite is much more abundant and wide-spread. Just like attapulgite, palygorskite can be readily transformed into products that have adsorptive and thickening properties for use in paints, adhesives, sealants and agricultural products. The high surface area of this mineral gives it the ability to absorb large amounts of water or oil and enables its wide use in the oil drilling and pet litter markets, as well as for other industrial applications as a plasticizer and suspender. Palygorskite clay is also used in fertilizer production, including conditioning of fertilizer products, and as a suspending agent in suspension fertilizers.
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Refining, fining (rectification)
A system of industrial techniques used to remove associated and other impurities from the target product and achieve the required purity level.
Sepiolite
A fibrous clay mineral composed of two silica tetrahedral sheets and one magnesium octahedral sheet that make up the 2:1 layer. Finds its greatest use as an absorbent, particularly for pet waste, and oils and greases. It is also used as a drilling mud and as a carrier for fertilizers and pesticides.
Fuller's earth
See montmorillonite
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