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Alternate Names: Atapulgite, Palygorskite, fullers earth

Oxide Analysis Formula
SiO2 55.95% 3.06
Al2O3 9.60% 0.31
MgO 9.90% 0.81
Fe2O3 6.20% 0.13
K2O 1.30% 0.05
Na2O 0.40% 0.02
CaO 2.15% 0.13
MnO 0.30% 0.01
TiO2 0.50% 0.02
H2O 11.10%n/a
Oxide Weight 283.66
Formula Weight 319.08


A very fine highly water absorbent non-swelling clay material that imparts suspension, thixotropy and binding properties to bodies and suspensions. It is found in compact blocks in sedimentary rocks and looks like soil. It feels somewhat greasy smooth and the dried material is light in weight.

Unlike smectites and montmorillonites, attapulgites do not have a flat particle shape, they have rod-shaped particles. These are electrolytically charged, enabling them to function as shear-thinning thickeners and suspension agents (by forming a dispersing thixotropic lattice by a non-swelling mechanism).

The high degree of refining plus the dispersant adsorbed on the product determines the self-dispersing characteristics. Attapulgite deposits are found in Florida (Active Minerals, a notable manufacturer, has products that include Acti-gel, Min-u-gel & Forigel - these differ in the amount refining).

One popular use of this material is heat-treating granules to improve liquid absorption and hardness for cat litter. The Swiss cheese-like micro-structure gives them extraordinary capacity to absorb liquids.

Related Information


Materials Sepiolite
Materials Acti-Gel 208
Materials Min-u-gel
Materials Bentonite
Bentonite can make a clay body instantly plastic, only 2-3% can have a big effect. It also suspends slurries so they don't settle out and slows down drying.
Materials Hectorite
Materials Palygorskite
Materials Fuller's Earth
Minerals Attapulgite, Palygorskite
Attapulgite is a magnesium aluminum silicate clay of very fine particle size. It is also known as Fu
Typecodes Generic Material
Generic materials are those with no brand name. Normally they are theoretical, the chemistry portrays what a specimen would be if it had no contamination. Generic materials are helpful in educational situations where students need to study material theory (later they graduate to dealing with real world materials). They are also helpful where the chemistry of an actual material is not known. Often the accuracy of calculations is sufficient using generic materials.
Palygorskite at Wikipedia
The unique properties of Acti-gel
Attapulgite information page at
Acti-Gel 208 Information page
Sorptive Mineral Institute for producers of absorbent clay mineral products
By Tony Hansen
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