The cation exchange capacity (CEC) is a characteristic property of expandable clay minerals, such as smectites and vermiculites. The aim of this work was to examine the cation exchange behavior of vermiculite using the Cu-triethylenetetramine (Cu-trien) CEC method and the influence of mechanical and chemical pretreatment, with the ammonium acetate method serving as a reference. The Cu-trien method makes rapid and direct CEC measurements possible. Three different kinds of mill were used to grind a vermiculite sample from Russia, in order to reduce the particle size to <10 μm. The Netzsch CGS 10 dry mill reduced the particle size more effectively than the other grinding methods. Chemical pretreatments were used to remove carbonates, organic matter, Fe oxides, and divalent exchangeable cations from vermiculite samples prior to CEC measurements. Subsamples of ground and chemically pretreated vermiculite samples were saturated with Na, Li, Mg, Ca, and Cu cations to determine the effect of exchangeable cations on measured CEC values. Chemical pretreatment, monovalent cation pretreatment, and 48 h of shaking time were needed to measure vermiculite CEC values effectively using the Cu-trien method.

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