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Sodium Bentonite is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate.
Sodium Bentonite expands when wet – it can absorb several times its dry weight in water. It is essentially an impure clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite.
It is mostly used in drilling mud in the oil and gas well drilling industries. The property of swelling also makes sodium bentonite useful as a sealant, especially targeted for the sealing of subsurface disposal systems for spent nuclear fuel and for quarantining metal pollutants of groundwater. Similar uses include making slurry walls, waterproofing of below grade walls and forming other impermeable barriers (e.g. to plug old wells or as a liner in the base of landfills to prevent migration of leachate into the soil. Sodium bentonite is also used in a variety of pet care items such as cat litter to absorb odors.
Sodium Bentonite is formed from the weathering of volcanic ash, usually in the presence of water.