Molecular sieve is a specialty material used to separate small-sized molecules from a mixture, whereas zeolite molecular sieve is a special class of molecular sieve that uses aluminosilicates as its skeletal composition. Zeolite molecular sieve has small-sized holes that block large molecules and allow small molecules to pass through it. Hence, it can be used as a ‘desiccant’. A molecular sieve can adsorb water up to 22% of its own weight. The adsorbed product remains trapped as it is able to penetrate the pore and fill the space in absence of another material. Molecular sieve can be further classified into microporous, mesoporous, and macroporous materials depending upon size of molecular sieve. Microporous materials have pore diameters less than 20 angstrom (Å), the mesoporous category lies in the middle with pore diameters between 2 and 50 nanometers (nm), and macroporous materials have pore diameters greater than 500 Å.
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Zeolite molecular sieve is a microporous material where size of molecular sieve lies between 3 and 4 Å. Zeolites are highly crystalline material with anionic framework. Thus, they can be used as an adsorbent for liquids and gases. Zeolite molecular sieve with a pore size of 3 Å blocks molecules with size more than 3 Å; hence, it can be used in diversified applications such as purification of gas streams, drying reaction starting materials, and in the chemical laboratory for separating compounds. The ratio of silica to alumina in zeolite molecular sieve is close to two, which provides it with characteristic features such as fast adsorption speed, good crushing resistance, frequent regeneration ability, and good pollution resistance. These properties help improve durability and efficiency of sieve. Zeolite molecular sieve is used in the petroleum and gas industry for selective adsorption of water from gas so that the latter can be used in applications where moisture from gas can corrode the equipment. This sieve can also be used to filter air supplied for breathing apparatus by removing particulates and compressor exhaust products from breathing air supply.
Environmental effects of detergents can be manipulated by replacing sodium tripolyphosphate with zeolite molecular sieve. This type of zeolite molecular sieve can reduce surface tension. This, in turn, assists detergents by producing demineralized water through calcium ion exchange, thereby avoiding deposition of dirt. Zeolite molecular sieve can also be used in soil conditioning. Extensive research and development activities are being conducted to use silver zeolite as an antibacterial agent in medicines. In April 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of sodium aluminosilicate for direct contact with consumable items. As a result, it is employed in personal care and pharmaceutical industries. Zeolite molecular sieves have high selectivity for ammonium ions; therefore, they are widely used to combat eutrophication and other effects in waterways. Zeolite molecular sieves have also been used to remove heavy metal ions present in water due to industrial activities.
Diversified applications of zeolite molecular sieve are likely to significantly propel its market growth during the forecast period. Raw materials required for production of zeolite molecular sieve are abundantly available in China, which makes it the leading producer of zeolite molecular sieve. Additionally, India is a frontrunner in the manufacture of zeolite molecular sieve. This country also exports zeolite to various economies. Asia Pacific accounts for major share of the zeolite molecular sieve market. The market for zeolite molecular sieve is projected to rise in regions, such as the Middle East and Africa due to increasing use of zeolite molecular sieve in petrochemical industries. High cost of zeolite molecular sieve can act as barrier for growth of the zeolite molecular sieve market.
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Key manufacturers of zeolite molecular sieve include Tricat Group, Luoyang Jiandong Chemical Industry Co. Ltd., Sorbead India, Pingxiang XINTAO Chemical Packing Co. Ltd, N Shashikant & Co., and Patalia Chem Industries.
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