Mechanistic Insights into Cs-Ion Exchange in the Zeolite Chabazite From In Situ Powder X-ray Diffraction

Daniel Parsons*, Antony Nearchou, Ben Griffiths, Sharon E. Ashbrook, Joseph Hriljac*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zeolites contain extraframework cations which are exchangeable under favourable aqueous conditions; this is the fundamental feature for their application in water purification and necessary to produce cation forms for other applications such as catalysis. Optimisation of the process is common, but there is little fundamental understanding based on real-time experiments of the mechanism of exchange for most zeolites. The sodium and potassium forms of zeolite chabazite selectively uptake Cs+ by ion exchange, leading to its application in removing radioactive 137Cs+ from industrial nuclear waste streams, as well as from contaminated environments in the aftermath of the Fukushima and Three Mile Island accidents. In this study, in situ synchrotron powder X-ray diffraction patterns have been collected on chabazite as it undergoes Cs-ion exchange. Applying Rietveld refinement to these patterns has revealed the time-resolved structural changes that occur in the zeolite as exchange progresses, charting the changes in spatial distribution of the extraframework cations and water molecules in the structure during the reaction. Ultimately, a detailed mechanistic understanding of how this dynamic ion-exchange reaction takes place has been obtained.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2024


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