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Characterization of Udung Uko Kaolinite Clay for the Production of Zeolite and the Comparative Analysis of the Product with Standard Zeolite

Filed in Chemical Engineering Project Topics by on January 14, 2020 0 Comments

Characterization of Udung Uko Kaolinite Clay for the Production of Zeolite and the Comparative Analysis of the Product with Standard Zeolite.



Characterization of Udung Uko Kaolinite Clay for the Production of Zeolite and the Comparative Analysis of the Product with Standard Zeolite.

The World is dynamic in many ways, a true taste of this assertion is displayed in both the continuous discovery of new processes, equipment’s, technologies and aids or utilities to this processes and the never ending development of existing once. The unparalleled inquisition into the use of every available natural resource to synthesis products to compliment or substitute natural occurring once due to the possibly foreseen unavailability of such items in the nearest future or as a cure to the adverse effect generated as a result of the use of the naturally occurring products. The extensive study of clay, as regards the harnessing (in form synthesizing) of its minerals for various industrial uses is eminent. Of the various clay types that such intense attention is being paid to is Kaolinite clay, typically for the production in form of extraction of naturally occurring Zeolite and for the synthesis of others depending on the processes to which they are to be used.

Zeolite as a substance is obviously the most trending area of research as it concerns earth minerals. This is not surprising as the robust discovery of the areas to which it can be used has tremendously outgrown its natural occurrence; as regards the sites they are found. To this end, it is inevitable for it to be synthesized, not only in well-known sites where they had been found naturally but also the surveying of new areas to find them. As a matter of fact, it is expedient, even as it is today, that almost all national entities are tending to establish their own processing firms and plants that would produce or synthesize zeolites within their territorial boundaries.

Nigeria as a country cannot be left out of this trend, as we tend to be one of the most outstanding consumers of this product in more ways than one, as envisaged in its use as catalyst for the optimal cracking of crude residue from the vacuum distillation units to get the most valuable petroleum products (in Nigeria’s context) which are gasoline and the liquefied natural gas. This has led to the much attention being paid in this aspect of research. Many researches geared toward the characterization of clay samples in various locations across the country for the synthesis of the said zeolite. This forms the basis for this thesis, which is concerned with the Characterization of Udung Uko Kaolinite Clay for the Production of Zeolite and the Comparative Analysis of the Product with Standard Zeolite.

Zeolites represent a group of more than 50 soft, white aluminosilicate minerals of tectosilicate type, which is to say a three dimensional framework of interconnected tetrahedra, comprising (paramountly) of aluminum, silicon and oxygen atoms They consist of a crystalline structure built from (AlO4)5- and (SiO4)4- bonded together in such a way that all four oxygen atoms located at corners of each tetrahedron are shared with adjacent tetrahedral crystals. Each tetrahedron in the framework contains silicon as its central atom; the overall structure becomes electrically neutral as the charges cancel each other out (Scot et al, 2001). The general formula of a zeolite is Me2/n O. Al2O3.  xSiO2. yH2O, where, Me is any alkali or alkaline earth atom, n is the charge on that atom, x is the number of Si tetrahedron varying from 2 to 10, and y is the number of water molecules varying from 2 to 7 (Sourced from Net).

Zeolites as discussed earlier are either naturally occurring compound formed as crystals in very tiny openings in some basaltic rocks. Notable among this group are Clinoptilotite, Chabazite, Analcime, Natrolite, Stilbite etc., and are used predominantly but not exclusive for water purification and for fertilizer production as they can be applied to some industrial manufacturing processes. They can be represented most times by the general formula shown below (Jha and Singh, 2011).

(Li, Na, K) p (Mg; Ca, Sr, Ba) q [Al (p+2q) Sin_ (p+2q) O2n].moH2O, where, p is the number of monovalent metal ion, q is the number of divalent metalions, n is the half of the number of oxygen atom and mo is the number of watermolecules.

With the aid of technology, zeolites are now synthesized mainly from fly ash, with the resulting zeolite being the purest form available. Synthetic zeolites are also characterized by their uniform lattice structure, pore spaces and the cages in their framework. The type formed, is mostly as a function of the operating temperatures, pressures and concentrations (silica-alumina ratio) of the reagent used in its synthesis aging period, PH, process of activation amongst others and they have more industrial application than the naturally occurring once (Scot et al, 2001).

The high demand for zeolites arises as a result of their distinct physical and chemical characteristics. These include their high thermal stability (decomposes at the temperature of about 793 °C) (Htay et al 2008), acidity (possess an active acid sites), hydrophobicity and hydrophility of surfaces, ion exchange capacity, low density and hardness, high surface area or large void volume, high size selectivity or uniform size distribution (with sizes ranging from or at an approximate of  0.2-0.5μm and a pore diameter of about 7.4 A) their absorptivity, and their tendency to be used as catalyst (catalysis) etc.  (Breck, 1974).

The application and uses of Zeolites has grown considerable from its original use as a water purifier to a more elaborate application, such has led to its increasing demand and synthesis. Amongst others, zeolites are used as petroleum, petrochemical, coal and fine chemical industrial catalyst, adsorbents and ion exchangers, nuclear industries for nuclear reprocessing, radioactive waste storage, heating and refrigeration, detergents processing, construction as material additives, medicine, agriculture as a soil treatment, gemstones, as ion-exchange beds in domestic and commercial water purification and softening and treatment of liquid waste. Over time, zeolites have find applications in new areas such as microelectronics and molecular device manufacture. (Ibrahim, 2011 and Yusuf, 2014).

1.1 Background of Study: Basically, the earth is composed of a vast body of water, leaving about 25% to be accounted for by the gasses and soil. The soil forms the top layer to which plants and animals depend on for food, build shelters on and carry out almost all other day to day activities on. Soil as a basic component for human existence is classified into three distinct categories, based on their mode of formation and their physical and chemical properties and their uses. The three broad categories under which soil is classified under are;

Sandy Soil, which are characterized by its dry nature, low water retaining capacity and high porosity, containing little or no nutrients, low capillary capacity and low in moisture contents. These properties make it not suitable for farming as they can hardly be tilled. On the contrary to their agricultural uses, they are mostly used for building and construction purposes. They are formed basically from the weathering of rocks (mostly sedimentary and metamorphic rocks), and they contain rock minerals.

Loamy Soil, just like metamorphic rock is a secondary soil, composing of different percentages of sand and clay soils with other death and decayed materials forming an integral part of it. Their property falls between that of the sandy and clayey soils, depending on their individual ratios in the entire composition of the said loamy soil. Its tendency to support agriculture is best among the three classes of soil.

Clay Soil is a contrast to sandy soil in most of its physical and chemical properties. It is made up of fine pores of very small diameters and is found as alluvial deposits near river banks and in marshy areas. Though they don’t support agriculture as much as loamy soil, the can be used to grow a few variety of crops and are mostly used primitively for sculpture making.

Clay is a naturally occurring earthly fine-grained material that acquires plasticity on mixing with a restricted amount of water. Chemically, it can be said to be a complex aluminosilicate compound containing added water molecules and are formed from or by the weathering of rocks such as graphite (Nwajagu 2005).  Clay minerals are determined by their chemical composition, layered structure and size and can be categorized into four subgroups: (1) kaolinite; (2) Bentolite or smectite (montmorillonite, saponite); (3) mica (illite), and (4) chlorite (Burhan and Ciftci 2010).

Kaolinite, the main constituent of kaolin from which zeolite is gotten from naturally or synthesized is a white, greyish-white, or slightly coloured clay type made up of tiny, thin, pseudohexagonal, flexible sheets of triclinic crystal with a diameter of 0.2– 12μm. It has a density of 2.1–2.6g/cm3 and a cation exchange capacity (CEC) that is less than that of bentolite in the order of 2–10meq/100 g, depending on the particle size, although the exchange reaction is rapid, and almost instantaneous. The structure of kaolinite is a tetrahedral silica sheet alternating with an octahedral alumina sheet. These sheets are arranged so that the tips of the silica tetrahedrons and the adjacent layers of the octahedral sheet form a common layer (Zoltan and Jozsef, 2005).

1.2 Aim and Objectives of Work: The aim of this research is to produce by synthesis, zeolite from Udung Uko Kaolinite Clay.

They concrete objectives of the work are as follows;

  • To characterize Udung Uko kaolinite clay.
  • To produce zeolite from the result of objective one.
  • To carry out comparative analysis of the result of the above objectives.

1.3 Statement of Problem: The ever increasing development of technology and the tendency of the user of the product being a slave to the owner is the basic problem to which this work aims at providing solution to. Nigeria as a country is funded basically by the crude oil it possesses. The optimal refining of its crude is aided by certain catalyst of which zeolite is paramount, and the zeolite used as at now is being imported at exorbitant prices and hoarding of the commodity is also common which in effect, causes a breakdown in the refining chain. With the relative abundance of kaolinite clay, a study of the production of zeolite in quantities sufficient for domestic consumption and a possible exportation is necessary. To this aim, this work is borne.

1.4 Justification of Study: Based on the need for the production of zeolite as catalyst to feed our refineries, and the application of this same zeolite in various industrial processes like water purification and softening treatment of liquid waste, detergents manufacturing, adsorption and ion exchange operations, in heating and refrigeration, in nuclear industries for nuclear reprocessing, radioactive waste storage, construction as material additives, medicine, agriculture as a soil treatment, for use as gemstones and in microelectronics and molecular device manufacturing, it is imperative for Nigeria as a nation to be involved in the industrial production of such an all-important catalyst as a way to cut down production expenses incurred by importing them and to increase our gross domestic product and economic earnings generally by the exportation such a product whose demand is ever increasing as zeolite.

1.5 Scope and Limitation of Research: The scope of this research covers the use of kaolinite clay, sourced from all the possible locations in Udung Uko Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria and the Characterization of same for the production of zeolite generally. The type of zeolite produced will be determined and named after various analyses such as X-ray Diffraction (XRD), X-ray Fluorescence (XRF), Fourier Transforms Infrared Spectra (FTIR), Scanning Electronic Monograph (SEM), Differential Thermal Analysis/Thermagravimetrics Analysis (DTA/TGA) Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) etc.

However, the research is limited to the used of kaolinite clay from the aforementioned local government area.

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