Abstract

A modified procedure for bentonite purification and a new method for the quantitative characterization of bentonite using smectite content are reported. Bentonite found in a drill core of Tsunagi Mine, Niigata, Japan was evaluated by the new method to demonstrate the substantial increase in smectite content from 40% in the original bentonite to 75% after purification using a new procedure. Powder samples were prepared by putting blocks of bentonite into acetone to remove water without mechanical crushing. The powdered, acetone-dried bentonite was purified by a dispersion-sedimentation method in water after cation exchange of the interlayer Ca2+ ion with Na+ ion by the reaction of raw bentonite with aqueous NaCl. The purification was evaluated using X-ray diffraction and thermogravimetric analyses (TG). The raw bentonite contained feldspar, quartz, and cristobalite, and feldspar and quartz were removed by the new purification procedure. The purification was evaluated quantitatively by comparing the TG data before and after the purification. The purified bentonite swelled in water to give a stable aqueous suspension and 3 g of purified bentonite dispersed in 60 mL of water was stable for several days. The replacement of interlayer sodium with dibehenyldimethylammonium gave an organophilic clay, which swelled in toluene. The bentonite has potential practical uses as a purified bentonite and an organophilic bentonite.

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