Scientific File

1. Introduction

BentomixTM additives are natural, non-toxic, environmental-friend substances manufactured from a natural Jordanian zeolite “Phillipsite”. These additives are consisted of hydrated Aluminum silicate with other essential trace elements such as Fe++, Mg++ and Mn++. 

1.1 Historical review for Natural Zeolite

In 1756, a Swedish mineralogist called Freiherr Axel Fredrick Cronstedt, collected a suite of well-formed crystals from the Svappavari Copper Mine, Lappmark, Sweden (Mumpton, 1978). Because the mineral exhibited intumescence when heated in blowpipe flame, he called the mineral “Zeolite” which means in Greek “to boil” and “stone” (Breck, 1974).

Geologists and mineralogists soon recognized Zeolite as an abundant mineral in basalt cavities. Later on, more than 1000 occurrences of Zeolite minerals were reported from sedimentary rocks of volcanic origin in more than forty countries.

Today, efforts are being made to utilize natural Zeolites as well as to develop new applications that take advantage of the low mining costs of natural Zeolites (Mumpton, 1978).

1.2 Definitions and Chemical Framework

Zeolite is an alumino-silicate, whose framework structure of (Si, Al)O4 tetrahedra contains pores filled with water molecules and exchangeable cations. Zeolite boils at about 200 °C, giving off water, which is readily readsorbed at room temperature (Gottardi, 1978). Zeolites are formed by bubbles of fluids in the parent magma, and the zeolite crystals grow as a result of the chemical action of these fluids on the magma (Barrer, 1978).

Zeolites have a rigid 3-dimentional crystalline structure consisting of a network of interconnected tunnels and cages. The pore and channel sizes are nearly uniform allowing the crystal to host molecules and positively charged ions of appropriate molecular size that fit into the pores and act as a “molecular sieve” (Jabr, 2004).

Zeolites are classified, based on the crystal structure, into groups having the same units but which are linked to form different frameworks (Gottardi, 1978). The bulk composition of Zeolites tend to correlate with those of the parent rock; more aluminous Zeolites are associated with rocks deficient in silica and more siliceous Zeolite with rocks high in silica (Barrer, 1978).

Zeolite is stable under normal conditions and up to 200 °C when it begins to boil. It can undergo extraordinary high temperatures before being melted at 1000 °C. Zeolite doesn’t evaporate and is not soluble in water.

1.3 Dominant Mineral Discovery and Work in Jordan

Natural Zeolite “phillipsite” is a widely occurring material in the volcanic tuffs of the northeastern basaltic plateau in Jordan. Phillipsite is the most dominant zeolitic tuff, in Jordan and a common constituent of many sedimentary Zeolitic tuff deposits. Phillipsite deposits contain predominantly Potassium and Calcium cations, in addition to other essential trace elements such as Fe++, Mg++ and Mn++(Dwairi, 1993).

Phillipsite has a common characteristic of mottled or etched due to potential dissolution in response to changing pore-water composition and occurs as stout prisms and stubby laths 3-30 µm in length and 0.3-3 µm in thickness (Mumpton and Ormsby, 1978).

Phillipsite deposits are located in Jaban Aritain I and II in Jordan (360 351 East), approximately 3.5 Km south Mafraq-Baghdad road and 120 Km northeast Amman (Reshiedat, 1991).

1.4 Uses of Zeolite

Zeolites are used as a slow release fertilizers and soil conditioners, as Ammonia and heavy metal removal in wastewater treatment, as livestock feed additives and odor control in animal husbandry, in the separation of oxygen and nitrogen from air, as reforming petroleum catalysts, and as acid-resistant adsorbent in gas drying and purification (Mumpton, 1978).

1.5 Applications of Zeolite in Animal Husbandry

The application of Zeolite overseas in animal husbandry has resulted in increasing feed efficiency, improving production rates and rumen microbial activity, and decreasing mortality rates. Zeolite was effective in eliminating poisonous effects of toxicants (Aflatoxins and Acidosis), therefore, reducing need for antibiotics and veterinary medicines. Moreover, it was approved that Zeolite has the potential to prevent ammonia related health problems and extending bedding life by keeping bedding dryer for animals due to its ability for absorbing ammonia and related odorous gases and trapping them into its crystalline structure (Mumpton, 1978).