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  The Nature of Organoclays

Organoclays are manufactured by modifying bentonite with quaternary amines, a type of surfactant that contains a nitrogen ion. The nitrogen end of the quaternary amine, the hydrophilic end, is positively charged, and ion exchanges onto the clay platelet for sodium or calcium. The amines used are of the long chain type with 12-18 carbon atoms. After some 30 per cent of the clay surface is coated with these amines it becomes hydrophobic and, with certain amines, organophilic.

Organoclay Rheological Additive

The main component of organoclay is bentonite, a chemically altered volcanic ash that consists primarily of the clay mineral montmorillonite. The bentonite in its natural state can absorb up to seven times its weight in water, after treatment can absorb only 5 to 10 per cent of its weight in water, but 40 to 70 per cent in oil, grease, and other sparingly-soluble, hydrophobic chlorinated hydrocarbons.

Modified Bentonite

As the organoclay is introduced into water, the quaternary amine is activated and extends perpendicularly off the clay platelets into the water. A chlorine or bromine ion is loosely attached to the carbon chain. Since the sodium ions that were replaced by the nitrogen are positively charged, they bond with the chlorine ion, resulting in sodium salt that is washed away. The result is a neutral surfactant with a solid base, which is the organoclay. The hydrophilic end of the amine dissolves into the oil droplet because "like dissolves like," thus removing that droplet from water. Because the partition reaction takes place "outside" of the clay particle (in contrast to adsorption of oil by carbon, which takes place inside its pores), the organoclay does not foul quickly.

Organophilic Clay

Organophilic clay can function is as a pre-polisher to activated carbon, ion exchange resins, and membranes (to prevent fouling), and as a post polisher to oil/water separators, dissolved air flotation (DAF) units, evaporators, membranes, and skimmers. Organophilic clay powder can be a component or the main staple of a flocculent clay powder. They are excellent adsorbers for the removal of oil, surfactants, and solvents, including methyl ethyl ketone, t-butyl alcohol (TBA), and others.

Keyword:Organic clay, Bentonite, Modified bentonite, Solvent based modified bentonite