Published June 1982
Since synthetic zeolites were first used commercially, they have found many uses in adsorbent and catalytic applications because of their unique physical structure. With today's knowledge of zeolite properties and manufacturing processes, it is possible to tailor the structure of the zeolite for specific processes.
As adsorbents, zeolites have found wide use in drying and purifying both gaseous and liquid streams in chemical, petroleum, and natural gas operations. Many bulk separations, such as separating olefins from paraffins, oxygen from air, and para xylene from mixed xylenes, also utilize zeolite adsorbents. Zeolite applications in bulk separators, ion exchange, and encapsulation are expected.
As heterogeneous catalysts, zeolites have proved to be much improved over the amorphous catalysts originally used in cracking and alkylation processes. New uses in hydrocracking, toluene alkylation, and methanol dehydration (for gasoline or light olefin production and other processes) are expected for zeolites because of their shape selectivity.
The development of synthetic zeolites for both adsorbent and catalytic applications has been truly outstanding and potential new processes based on zeolite appear to be equally important.