In 1756, the mineralogist Baron Crönsted discovered the Stilbite. Under fast heating conditions this mineral seemed to be boiling due to its water loss. Crönsted named it “zeolite”, from greek word “zeo”, meaning “to boil” and “lithos” meaning “stone”. The zeolite family grew ever since that first discovery and is among the most numerous minerals on Earth. Some two hundred zeolites types are currently known including forty which are natural ones.
Zeolites are hydrated aluminosilicates. They are cation exchangers, and microporous minerals.
The microporosity of the zeolites gives them a very high surface area ranging from 100 to 800 m2/g. Depending on the type of zeolite, the size and shape of the spaces (cages ) vary from 6.6 Å to 13 Å and the windows (pores and channels ) vary from 2.5 to 20 Å.
Zeolites are used in many applications that can be grouped into four main areas:
- Adsorption/Desorption of liquids and gases.
- Energy storage.
- Cation Exchange.