Industrial Applications of Bentonite

Arthur G. Clem and Robert W. Doehler
American Colloid Company, Skokie, Illinois

Abstract: Bentonite is employed by industry to perform a multitude of jobs. Certain industrial applications become apparent from an understanding of the composition and structure of bentonite, and the properties they create. These properties are utilized chiefly when the material is suspended in a liquid, usually water; or as a dried powder or granule.

Most industrial applications involve the swelling property of bentonite to form viscous water suspensions. Depending upon the relative proportions of clay and water, these mixtures are used as bonding, plasticizing, and suspending agents.

Bentonites disperse into colloidal particles and, accordingly, provide large surface areas per unit weight of clay. This large surface area is a major reason why bentonite functions so well in stabilizing emulsions, or as a medium to carry other chemicals.

Bentonites react chemically with many organic materials to form compounds which are used chiefly as gelling agents in a variety of organic liquids.

Bentonites are selected for each industrial need on the basis of type and quality. This selection is based principally on physical properties, and chemistry of the bentonite becomes involved only to the extent that it influences the physical properties.

Clays and Clay Minerals; 1961 v. 10; no. 1; p. 272-283; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1961.0100122
© 1961, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)