The amendments may be natural or synthetic and by their origin organic or inorganic. Among amendments, the inorganic ones are recommended, such as gypsum, lime, zeolites and altered rocks, including sand, ceramic, perlite, ash, slag, zeolite, pyrites, dolomite, calcined clay, etc. Fly ash-based zeolites can be used as amendments to improve the use of the soil for agricultural purposes. Generally, there are different methods for the synthesis of new materials using solid waste – fly ashes. Methods are known to be composed of a single stage or two stages. The first method – the conventional – is direct hydrothermal conversion of the mixture of ash and alkaline solution (NaOH or KOH), but only 50% of ashes can be converted into zeolite. The second method consists in mixing the ash with KOH and fusion at elevated temperature. The method leads to an advanced conversion – the type of zeolite depending on treatment conditions. Other studies recommend the conversion of ash using microwave ovens or ultrasound bath; in this case, the conversion time is reduced to 1–2 hours. From these methods, the direct method was proposed to be used in synthesizing zeolites for agriculture, with a part in controlling release of fertilizers and as a soil amendment. The synthesized materials were characterized with respect to microstructure (electronic microscopy SEM) and chemical and mineralogical composition (EDAX, X-ray diffraction). By analyzing the obtained data, one may observe the destruction of the ash network and crystallization of the zeolitic phase, especially in the case of treatment by diffusion. The XRD analysis confirms the presence of zeolite in materials obtained. Good results were also obtained in the case of using ultrasound treatment for zeolite synthesis; also, the time of treatment significantly decreased in this case.
Part of the book: Zeolites