Evaluation of Adsorption and Mechanical Strength of 13X Zeolite Mixtures with Phyllosilicate Binders Using Molecular Dynamics Simulation and Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy

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There is growing interest in developing zeolites with novel internal structures that have optimal adsorptive capacity and high mechanical strength, while offering advantages, such as being light weight. We integrate computational and experimental methods to explore the effect of binder/zeolite types, and weight percentages on the mechanical strength of 13X zeolite and adsorption capacities of N2, H2O, and CO2 for additive manufacturing (AM) applications with the goal of maximizing both adsorption and strength. Zeolite 13X mixtures and phyllosilicate binders (either bentonite or kaolin) are combined using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to create structures with various binder/zeolite weight percentages. Adsorption capabilities and mechanical strength are assessed using the grand canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) and ReaxFF modules, respectively. Our modeling shows that an optimized zeolite/binder ratio for N2 adsorption is around 15 wt% for kaolin and roughly 10 wt% for bentonite. The resulting parameters can be applied to facilitate macro-scale computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element method (FEM) simulations of an AM zeolite structure. We also performed Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectroscopy (PALS) measurements on zeolite samples to explore the effect of changes in the internal volume. The results show an inverse relationship between the free volume and the solid loading. Adding a binder changes the morphology of the zeolite-binder compound and decreases open-volume area significantly.