November 2004
Volume 56    Issue 11

Activated and natural sodium bentonites and their markets

Mining Engineering , 2004, Vol. 56, No. 11, pp. 17-17
Landis, Charles R.; von Maubeuge, Kent


The global bentonite industry is a dynamic market balancing a range of end uses with an evergrowing number of bentonite producers. In addition, markets in developed countries are elevating the level of detail and transparency for materials reporting in programs, such as the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restrictions of Chemicals (REACH) program in the European Union. Bentonite is impacted by programs of this nature. The majority of the bentonite products sold around the world are sodium bentonites. These sodium bentonites consist either of natural sodium bentonites, or naturally occurring bentonite dominated by divalent interlayer cations (Ca+2 and Mg+2) subsequently exchanged with sodium cation. The latter variety is often called “sodium-activated“, or “soda-ash treated” bentonite. Once exchanged with sodium, these bentonites are often difficult to distinguish from natural sodium bentonites using common commercial testing protocols. Due to their similar colloidal and bulk chemical properties; the lack of test procedures designed specifically to identify this product feature; and the failure to completely or effectively explain their differences, sodium-activated bentonite is often considered to be identical to natural sodium bentonite in the industry.

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