The great interest in the zeolite materials, microporous inorganic solids containing large voids and channels has continued since their initial discovery and initial industrial appilcations in the late 1940's and 1950's.
The first zeolite, stilbite, was discovered by Cronstedt in 1756, who found that the mineral lost water rapidly on heating and seemed to boil. The name "zeolite" comes from the Greek words zeo (to boil) and lithos (stone).
The zeolites encompass materials comprised of the aluminosilicates, aluminophosphates and germanates. The pore sizes can vary from ~3Å to 30Å - more than enough to permit the diffusion of atoms and small molecules into the macromolecular structure.
The microporous structure is important as it is this which allows the materials to act as catalysts. Other applications include gas seperation and ion exchange.
Zeolites are designated by three capital letters, following IUPAC rules. These codes are not dependant upon atomic composition, cell dimensions or geometry. They are derived from the names of the types of the materials.
© W. Locke, ICSTM Department of Chemistry 1996.