Chemical modification of smectite clays

  • I.K. Breakwell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Today, speciality use organoclays are being developed for an increasingly large number of specific applications. Many of these, including use in cosmetics, polishes, greases and paints, require that the material be free from abrasive impurities so that the product retains a smooth `feel'. The traditional `wet' method preparation of organoclays inherently removes abrasives naturally present in the parent mineral clay, but it is time-consuming and expensive. The primary objective of this thesis was to explore the alternative `dry' method (which is both quicker and cheaper but which provides no refining of the parent clay) as a process, and to examine the nature of the organoclays produced, for the production of a wide range of commercially usable organophilic clays in a facile way.
Natural Wyoming bentonite contains two quite different types of silicate surface (that of the clay mineral montmorillonite and that of a quartz impurity) that may interact with the cationic surfactant added in the `dry' process production of organoclays. However, it is oil shale, and not the quartz, that is chiefly responsible for the abrasive nature of the material, although air refinement in combination with the controlled milling of the bentonite as a pretreatment may offer a route to its removal.
Ion exchange of Wyoming bentonite with a long chain quaternary ammonium salt using the `dry' process affords a partially exchanged, 69-78%, organoclay, with a monolayer formation of ammonium ions in the interlayer. Excess ion pairs are sorbed on the silicate surfaces of both the clay mineral and the quartz impurity phases. Such surface sorption is enhanced by the presence of very finely divided, super paramagnetic, Fe2O3 or Fe(O)(OH) contaminating the surfaces of the major mineral components. The sorbed material is labile to washing, and induces a measurable shielding of the 29Si nuclei in both clay and quartz phases in the MAS NMR experiment, due to an anisotropic magnetic susceptibility effect. XRD data for humidified samples reveal the interlamellar regions to be strongly hydrophobic, with the by-product sodium chloride being expelled to the external surfaces.
Many organic cations will exchange onto a clay. The tetracationic cyclophane, and multipurpose receptor, cyclobis(paraquat-p-phenylene) undergoes ion exchange onto Wyoming bentonite to form a pillared clay with a very regular gallery height. The major plane of the cyclophane is normal to the silicate surfaces, thus allowing the cavity to remain available for complexation. A series of group VI substituted o-dimethoxybenzenes were introduced, and shown to participate in host/guest interactions with the cyclophane. Evidence is given which suggests that the binding of the host structure to a clay substrate offers advantages, not only of transportability and usability but of stability, to the charge-transfer complex which may prove useful in a variety of commercial applications.
The fundamental relationship between particle size, cation exchange capacity and
chemical composition of clays was also examined. For Wyoming bentonite the
extent of isomorphous substitution increases with decreasing particle size, causing
the CEC to similarly increase, although the isomorphous substitution site: edge site
ratio remains invarient throughout the particle size range studied.
Date of AwardDec 1992
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorWilliam R. McWhinnie (Supervisor)


  • bentinite
  • organoclays
  • host/guest
  • cyclobis(paraquat-p-phenylene)
  • alkyl quaternary ammonium salts

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