Zeolite can play an important role in oil field waste cleanup.
An intensive review of Natural Zeolites as Cation Exchangers for Environmental Protection was done by Colella Pansini of the University of Naples in Italy.
Pansini’s review is made up of four main sections:
- Introduction to cation exchange procedures that can be operated at an industrial level.
- Deals with the removal of NH₄+ from municipal and industrial wastewater.
- Research on the abilities for natural Zeolites for removal of heavy metals from water and soil
- Shows how chemical and structural features make Zeolites a very powerful tool for the decontamination of soils and waters containing radionuclides. Zeolite makes an excellent option for oil field clean-up through a combination of ion exchange and sieving capabilities.
The magnetic charge leftover from the molecular makeup of Ida-Ore Zeolite nets a negative charge on the Zeolite Framework, known as Isomorphous Substitution. These areas of negative charge are therefore an ideal site for adsorption of exchangeable cations in the solution. If there is no suitable site in the structure, or if it is already filled, the cations occupy the sites of water molecules upon ion exchange.
Zeolites have the ability to exclude certain cations depending on the size of their microporous channels and cavities within the Zeolite structure. Those cations that are larger than the internal cavities are excluded from all or part of the internal surface of the Zeolite. Whereas, cations that do “fit” into the internal structure can be exchanged (through isomorphous substitution or ion-exchange) into the structure and become part of the Zeolite Framework. Hence, natural Zeolites are renowned for their molecular sieve properties (Tsitsishvili it al., 1992).
The first practical applications of Zeolites were performed in the 19th century (Breck 1974). The applications for molecular sieve and cation ion exchange applications have been known for hundreds of years.
Various aspects of work revolving around the Bakken Oil Patch can benefit from the use of Zeolite. The Cation exchange and Molecular Sieve properties allow for cleanup and capture of oil, hydrocarbons, ammonia, methane, radionuclides, radioactive isotopes, and heavy metals; as well as an array of positively charged elements and compounds. Zeolite can play a role in site remediation, landfills, spill cleanup, municipalities, air filtration, wastewater filtration, and radiation capture.
This photo shows a 3000x zoomed in view of Zeolite mined from the Sheaville Deposit in Idaho. Note the large amount of surface area and “tunnels” within the structure.
Cleanup needs around drill sites and accident sites can utilize Zeolite. Ida-Ore Mining has the ability to manufacture blends of wood and Zeolite to take advantage of both the lightweight and absorbent characteristics of wood chips. Or it can be used directly to capture radio-nuclides and hydrocarbons.
Wood blends will reduce disposal costs at landfills and still take advantage of the binding and capturing capabilities Zeolite has to offer.