Attapulgite is knowna as palygorskite a distinct clay minerals with a unique chain structure that gives it unusual colloidal and sorptive properties and the principal member of group of sorptive clay known collectively as “ fullers’ earth” . It is a hydrated aluminium magnesium silicate, having the formula (Mg, Al) 5 Si8 O22 (OH) 4 4H2O and occurs mainly in hydrothermal veins or in altered serpentine or granitic rocks.
Attapulgite crystallizes in monoclinic system as white clay like material . Attapulgite has a wide variety of industrial applications . The minerals is highly sorptive in its natural form . It takes up water rapidly to 200 percent of its own weight . This value is surpassed only by that of montmorillonite and sepiolite clay.
Attapulgite is one of the most important gel forming clays . it gives stable suspensions of high viscosity at relatively low concentrations compared to other clays.
Attapulgit e can thicken a large variety of liquids including fresh and Saltwater, aliphatic and aromatic solvents, vegetable oils, waxes, glycols , ketons and some alcohols.
Colloidal grades are well known thickening , gelling, stabilizing and thixotropic agents in products as diverse as paints and drilling muds . Sorptive grade find use a decolorizing and clarifying agents, filter aids , floor absorbents, animal litter , pesticides carriers.
It is also used to thicken and stabilize liquid fertilizers , latex paints drilling mud and other systems with high concentrations of electrolytes.
It is also used in oil decolourization , soil treatment , herbicides or insect ides, agricultural dust carriers and pharmaceutical products.