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Zeolites used in the manufacture of oxygen

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Zeolites used in the manufacture of oxygen

Zeolites used in the manufacture of oxygen

  • Recently 35 tons of zeolite used in oxygen production plants has been brought from Italy’s capital Rome to Bengaluru by Air India.
  • It has been imported by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to manufacture oxygen for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, as zeolite is used in Pressure Swing Adsorption oxygen plants.

What are Zeolites?

  • Zeolite is an aluminumosilicate mineral. These are fine-grained substances that are used as adsorbents and catalysts.
  • It is a kind of ‘Molecular sieve’ which consists of crystalline solid structures made of silicon, aluminum and oxygen.
  • It accommodates cations such as K+, Na +, Ca2+, Mg 2+. When zeolite minerals come into contact with a solution, they exchange their cations with other ions in the solution.
  • Zeolite minerals are mainly found in the form of stilbite, phillipsite, natrolite, heulandites, chabzite, etc.

Natural Zeolites

  • In India, the deposits of these minerals are found in the palace hills, Girnarmountain Kathiawar and in the southern trap. Its structure is similar to that of a beehive. It is also used in petrochemical industries and medicine.
  • The natural form of zeolite is formed by volcanic rocks reacting with alkaline groundwater. It crystallizes in the marine basin for years.
  • Naturally found zeolites are not pure, they contain adulteration of other minerals such as quartz, due to which they are excluded from commercial applications.

Artificial Zeolite

  • Zeolite is formed by the slow crystallization process of silica-alumina jelly. It absorbs a large amount of water, so on rapid heating it releases a large amount of water in the form of steam.

Uses

  • It is mainly used in commercial water purification. In addition, it is also used as adsorbents and catalysts.
  • It is also used as a catalyst in cracking and isomerisation of hydrocarbons in petroleum industries.

Zeolites in Oxygen Production

  • Zeolites are used in oxygen concentrators to absorb atmospheric nitrogen. In this process, nitrogen is first absorbed by it and then expels nitrogen.
  • In this process, up to 5 percent argon gas is produced with highly pure oxygen,which is then taken apart. After this, only oxygen gas remains for the use of patients.
  • In fact, under high pressure, the surface area of ​​zeolites increases, enabling it to absorb large amounts of nitrogen.

Source: The Hindu

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