Zeolite synthesis from paper sludge ash at low temperature (90 °C) with addition of diatomite

Takaaki Wajima, Mioko Haga, Keiko Kuzawa, Hiroji Ishimoto, Osamu Tamada, Kazuhiko Ito, Takashi Nishiyama, Robert T. Downs, John F. Rakovan

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72 Scopus citations


Paper sludge ash was partially converted into zeolites by reaction with 3 M NaOH solution at 90 °C for 24 h. The paper sludge ash had a low abundance of Si and significant Ca content, due to the presence of calcite that was used as a paper filler. Diatomite was added to the NaOH solution to increase its Si content in order to synthesize zeolites with high cation exchange capacity. Diatomite residue was filtered from solution before addition of ash. The original ash without addition of diatomite yielded hydroxysodalite with a cation exchange capacity ca. 50 cmol/kg. Addition of Si to the solution yielded Na-P1 (zeolite-P) with a higher cation exchange capacity (ca. 130 cmol/kg). The observed concentrations of Si and Al in the solution during the reaction explain the crystallization of these two phases. The reaction products were tested for their capacity for PO43- removal from solution as a function of Ca2+ content, suggesting the formation of an insoluble Ca-phosphate salt. The product with Na-P1 exhibits the ability to remove NH4+ as well as PO43- from solution in concentrations sufficient for application in water purification. Both NH4+ and PO43- removal showed little variation with pH between 5 and 9. Alternative processing methods of zeolite synthesis, including the addition of ash to an unfiltered Si-NaOH solution and addition of a dry ash/diatomite mixture to NaOH solution, were tested. The third process yielded materials with lower cation exchange capacity due to formation of hydroxysodalite. The second process results in a product with relatively high cation exchange capacity, and reduces the number of processing steps necessary for zeolite synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-252
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - May 20 2006


  • Cation exchange capacity
  • Diatomite
  • Hydroxysodalite
  • Na-P1
  • Paper sludge ash
  • Zeolite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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