LANZHOU, July 21 (Xinhua) -- An efficient solution has been found for the effective utilization of mixed-dimensional attapulgite clay, a multi-functional natural nanomaterial with a wide range of uses, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
Researchers at the Lanzhou Institute of Chemical Physics (LICP) of CAS have been able to tackle the challenge of color whitening of the brick-red mixed-dimensional attapulgite (APT) clay by structural evolution, and collaborated with enterprises to realize batch production, said Wang Aiqin, a researcher from LICP and head of the study team.
Attapulgite, also called palygorskite, is a hydrous magnesium aluminum silicate mineral with a rod-like crystal structure. It has excellent adsorption, toughening and reinforcing properties, and thus has been widely used in the chemical industry, building materials, medicine, agriculture and other fields.
The efficient utilization of mixed-dimensional clay minerals with large reserves in nature has attracted great attention. For instance, the APT clay deposits in northwest China's Gansu Province exceed 1 billion tonnes and most of these clay ore deposits are variegated in color distribution.
Due to the complex composition of co-existing minerals, the efficient utilization of mixed-dimension attapulgite clay is restricted, Wang said, adding that new approaches are needed to tackle this problem.
The team of researchers systematically studied the microstructure of these clay minerals and found the structural evolution law of mixed-dimensional APT clay. The researchers have also realized the color whitening of the brick-red mixed-dimensional APT clay through structural evolution.
The study provides a new solution for effective utilization of the basic raw materials for high-quality industrial development, Wang said.
The study findings have been published in the journal Applied Clay Science. ■