Zeolite, due to its ability to absorb liquids and gases, has been a successful chemical absorbent for the effective adsorption of land-based oil spills and remediation of oil-contaminated soils.
Using Zeolites to Treat Chemical Spills
The presence of heavy metals in the environment is of great concern due to their toxicity to humans, animals, and plants. The application of natural zeolites in water treatment is a promising technology in the process of environmental cleaning. The utilization of natural zeolites has mainly focused on the removal of ammonium and heavy metals by ion exchange.
The ion-exchange properties of zeolites allow them to trap unwanted metals and prevent them from entering ecosystems and food chains. Pulverized zeolites, especially clinoptilolite, can reduce the transfer of heavy metals such as copper, lead, and zinc from soil to plants, the study reported.
Zeolites are a successful chemical absorbent because of their ability to absorb liquids and gases. These properties not only increase home safety, but also prevent water and chemicals from penetrating the pores of concrete, brick, and stone, preventing costly damage. It’s also ideal for weathered surfaces, as liquids will absorb from grooves and pits.
Natural zeolite can successfully absorb spilled oil, fuel, coolant, paint, degreaser, and mild acids. Plus, it eliminates odors and toxic vapors from contact with spills. In addition, zeolites have a strong framework and, unlike clay products, do not decompose when saturated.
Due to the size, structure, and weight of zeolite, it can be used outdoors in windy conditions. Unlike lightweight clay products that are easily blown away by the wind, zeolite will still come into contact with chemicals when dealing with a spill.
A study examined the use of natural zeolites to remediate oil spills. The oil adsorption capacity of various sand-clinoptilolite mixtures was tested. The adsorption increased with the increase of clinoptilolite dosage. The researchers also found that it is possible to burn the oil sand zeolite mixture and reuse the ignited mixture to further adsorb the oil.
The results of the study show that the sand-zeolite mixture can effectively absorb land-based oil spills and remediate oil-contaminated soils.