There is a natural aluminosilicate in nature with effects of molecular sieving, adsorption, ion exchange and catalysis. This natural substance is called zeolite with the synthetic zeolite also known as molecular sieves.
Zeolite chemical composition formula: (Mn+) 2/nO • Al2O3 • xSiO2 • pH2O, M represents a metal ion (usually Na in the artificial synthesis), N represents a metal ion valence, x represents the number of moles of SiO2, also known as silica to alumina ratio, p represents the number of moles of water. The most basic structure of the crystalline zeolite backbone is the tetrahedra SiO4 and AlO4, through the binding of common oxygen atoms to form crystals with three-dimensional network structure. This combination forms, constitutes cavities and channels of molecular level and uniform pore size. Owing to the different structures and different forms, “cage” shaped holes can be divided intoα, β, γ, hexagonal prism and faujasite.
Properties of Zeolites
- Zeolites are very stable solids that resist the kinds of environmental conditions that challenge many other materials. High temperatures don’t bother them because they have relatively high melting points (over 1000°C), and they don’t burn.
- They also resist high pressures, don’t dissolve in water or other inorganic solvents, and don’t oxidize in the air.
- Since they’re un-reactive and based on naturally occurring minerals, they’re not believed to have any harmful environmental impacts.
- The most interesting thing about zeolites is their open, cage-like, “framework” structure and the way it can trap other molecules inside it.
- Zeolites can exchange other positively charged ions for the metal ions originally trapped inside them (technically this is known as cation exchange) and, as Cronstedt found over 250 years ago, they can gain or lose their water molecules very easily too (this is called reversible dehydration).
Following are the uses of Zeolites in Gardening and Farming
- It acts like a soil conditioner and can help retain more water in soil, 100 grams of Zeolite can hold 80 grams of water and can release it easily to plants.
- Zeolites also have been observed to store nutrients and release them slowly. Hence they can be used with singular fertilizer.
- They can be mixed with soil during soil preparation phase.
- In pots they can be lined at the bottom of pot so that draining water can be absorbed and nutrients escaping can be recovered.
- They can also be used to line the bottom of the lawn bed just prior to laying of soil, this can help your lawn to become more efficient in terms of water and nutrients.