Exploration of a New Source of Sustainable Nanomaterial from the Koh-e-Suleiman Mountain Range of Pakistan for Industrial Applications
The present study aimed to explore a new source of montmorillonite and to develop an extraction and purification protocol for its isolation from raw clay samples acquired from the Koh-e-Suleiman mountain range in Pakistan. The process involved the collection of raw clay from the source, identification and quantification of montmorillonite. Granulometric extraction and purification protocols increased the montmorillonite content from 21.8-25.1% in the raw clay to 90.1-93.9% after small-scale extraction and 85.33-89.33% on a larger scale. A techno-economic analysis highlighted the practicality and economic benefits of large-scale extraction for industrial applications. This study highlights the existence of a substantial new source of this valuable clay which is currently used across multiple industries including construction, pottery making, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and engineering. It is intuitively expected that the large-scale extraction of the material will improve the economic condition of the region by providing employment opportunities to locals and may be a valuable resource for export.