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/ ; Okubo, Tatsuya; Lovallo, Mark; Davis, Mark E.

Using zeolites as catalysts have many advantages since can be recovered and recycled with greater ease and low cost, leading to less waste and fewer byproducts, often function with higher activity, may combine several catalytic steps, reduce environment pollution by substitution of homogeneous catalysts used in the traditional chemical industry (mineral acids, salts, heavy metals).

Figure 4. Illustration of the channel system in the zeolite beta (BEA).

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Zeolites find and increasing application in production of petrochemicals, often replacing environmentally unfriendly catalysts. Zeolite catalysts typically yield fewer impurities, have higher capacity, give greater unit efficiency, and afford higher selectivity. Unlike the more hazardous acid catalysts that have been used in the past, e.g., solid phosphoric acid, hydrofluoric acid, etc., zeolites are non-hazardous and regenerable.

Metal-exchanged zeolites can serve as oxidation or reduction catalysts, e. g. Ti-ZSM-5 in the production of caprolactam, and Cu-zeolites in NOx decomposition. They have been employed on diesel vehicles as a less costly and more effective option for NOx removal than the three-way catalytic converter.

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Hydrogen-exchanged zeolites, whose framework-bound protons give rise to very high acidity are exploited in many organic reactions, including crude oil cracking, isomerisation and fuel synthesis. Because of high selectivity of zeolites, they are often the most efficient and cost-effective method for a number of refinery conversions .

In the case of shape-selective catalysis in zeolites, the combination of both properties exploited to control the selectivity of catalytically conducted reactions.

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Cation-containing zeolites are extensively used as desiccants due to their high affinity for water, and also find applications in gas separation, where molecules are differentiated on the basis of their electrostatic interactions with the metal ions. Conversely, hydrophobic silica zeolites preferentially absorb organic solvents. Zeolites can thus separate molecules based on differences of size, shape and polarity.

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The shape-selective properties of zeolites are the basis for their use in molecular adsorption. The ability preferentially to adsorb certain molecules, while excluding others, has opened up a wide range of molecular sieving applications. Sometimes it depends merely on the size and shape of pores controlling access into the zeolites; in other cases different types of molecule enter the zeolite, but some diffuse through the channels more quickly, leaving others stuck behind, as in the purification of para-xylene by the zeolites X or Y .

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Zeolites have the ability to act as catalysts for chemical reactions which take place within the internal cavities. Essentially, zeolites have two properties which make them particularly suitable as starting materials for the preparation of catalysts :

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Adsorption and separation are based on chromatographic processes which happen on the surface of zeolite crystals and are determined both by different migration speed of various compounds along the surface of adsorbent due to diversity in the intensity of their interactions with the surface and due to steric effects [19].

ACTL ∩ LTL Synthesis | SpringerLink

The unique ion exchange properties of zeolites can also be used for cleaning up of commercial waste water containing heavy metals and nuclear effluents containing radioactive isotopes. In a similar way zeolites can absorb ions and molecules and thus act as a filter for odor control and toxin removal.

Optimizations for LTL Synthesis - IEEE Xplore Document

Cation exchange is exploited in water softening, where alkali metals such as Na+ or K+ in zeolite framework are replaced by Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions from water. Many commercial washing powders thus contain substantial amounts of zeolites that enhance washing efficiency. LTA have the largest scale production of synthetic zeolites for use as "builders" in domestic and commercial detergents to remove the calcium and magnesium "hardness" .

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