Prof. Ahmed Salawu of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria on Wednesday in Abuja said the institution had successfully produced a pilot synthetic zeolite.
Zeolites are micro porous aluminosilicate minerals commonly used as commercial absorbents and catalyst in industries.
Salawu made this known during the maiden Nigeria International Conference on Zeolite organised by ABU in collaboration with Petroleum Technology Development Fund in Abuja.
He said that the PDTF Professorial Chair in ABU Zaria had been able to develop a new process route through which high quality zeolites also known as ZSM-5 were produced from kaolin in Kankara town, Katsina.
Salawu added that the synthetic zeolite was now ready for commercialisation.
He said: “The ZSM-5 also has short crystallisation time of four days compared to seven days for conventional methods.
“The zeolites are compounded into catalysts and tested both within and outside the country.
“The characterisation and performance tests carried out revealed that a blend of the two catalysts outperforms the commercial catalyst presently in use in Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company in terms of gasoline yield.
“Zeolite catalysts are commonly used in the petroleum refining and petrochemical industry for a variety of applications, ranging from catalytic cracking of heavy fuels to isomerisation and aromatisation of petrochemical feedstock.”
Salawu said that it was possible to produce a higher quality zeolite (Zeolite Y) either by incorporation method from high purity chemicals or by the original Engelhard method from kaolin and high purity chemicals.
He called on stakeholders to invest in the project to enable ABU procure the needed equipment and facilities for the ongoing project.
He said: “We hope that the findings of the ongoing research and development will advance the indigenous knowhow in the area and consequently effect improvement in the national economy.”
In his remarks, the Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, stated that the PDTF and ABU had a track record of excellence in the fields of Engineering and Geosciences, among others.
Daukoru said that zeolites occurred naturally but as a result of their applications in almost all spheres of life, artificial synthetic forms had now been produced.
“The known applications of zeolites traverse industrial, commercial and domestic use,” he said.