Exploring the Min-U-Gel attapulgite range
Extremely versatile and valuable, Attapulgite is a long-standing important industrial mineral which is widely used across applications as diverse as coatings, oil and gas, construction, agriculture and more.
How do you take a mineral so unique and powerful, and make it even better? Introducing, Min-U-Gel®.
The Min-U-Gel® range of products from Active Minerals has revolutionised how this naturally occurring mineral is used, precisely engineered to enhance performance and cater to the changing demands of specific industries.
In this blog, we’ll explore why Min-U-Gel® are market-leading products at the forefront of innovation and why they are a staple in sealants, coatings and many other liquid applications.
But first, let’s start from the beginning.
What is attapulgite?
Attapulgite is a natural clay mineral composed of magnesium aluminium silicate, found in deposits around the world. It’s characterised by its unique needle-like crystal structure which gives it the ability to form intricate networks and 3D gel structures, enabling it to control fluid dynamics, enhance viscosity, and stabilise formulations.
This distinctive structure is responsible for its extraordinary rheological and adsorption properties. Hence, it’s incredibly effective in applications where thickening, suspension or stabilisation is needed and similarly, where the adsorption of impurities of toxins is required.
Attapulgite’s versatility as a naturally occurring clay makes it a go-to material for industries seeking efficiency, stability, and performance across a spectrum of applications.
Understanding Min-U-Gel® Rheology Modifiers
Min-U-Gel® minerals are rheology modifiers with thixotropic thickening, derived from attapulgite clay. They are a specially processed range of colloidal gelling agents in powdered form, prepared in fine particle sizes.
What sets Min-U-Gel® apart isn’t just the utilisation of attapulgite, but the meticulous engineering and formulation processes that have transformed each agent into a high-performance product suitable for a myriad of applications.
This means they are incredibly versatile and adaptable to the needs of each industry. For example, where its ability to control fluid loss and increase viscosity helps to improve drilling fluid efficiency within the oil & gas sector, its ability to enhance binding and adhesion properties makes it a useful additive for construction materials.
With a unique molecular structure, Min-U-Gel® can help shape the efficiency and performance of various products and processes, with some of the key benefits including:
- Stable gel strength: Min-U-Gel® can significantly reduce the pre-application mixing time by preventing the settling or separation of pigments during storage, ensuring that formulations remain stabilised.
- Unaltered by external factors: The product’s performance isn’t affected by temperature, salt, pH, enzyme or bacterial attacks unless it’s an extreme case. It also doesn’t swell or affect water demand.
- Rapid recoverability – The mixture quickly returns to its original velocity after mixing or after application.
- High temperature stability: Its gel characteristics remain the same at extremely high or low temperatures.
- Shear-thinning behaviour: It can maintain high viscosity at low shear rates, and low viscosity at high shear rates, making the mixing and application processes easier.
Above all else, one of the major characteristics of Min-U-Gel® attapulgite minerals is their ability to function as thickeners, stabilisers, and viscosifiers. The needle-like structure of attapulgite particles enables them to create a three-dimensional gel network, providing stability and enhancing the viscosity of fluids in any application.
Key applications of Min-U-Gel®
Now we know what gives Min-U-Gel® minerals the competitive edge, how do these qualities translate into real-life applications? As mentioned earlier, they can be used for a multitude of products and processes, but here are some of the most common.
Coatings, adhesives and sealants
Min-U-Gel® is widely used in both aqueous and solvent-based paint and coating systems. As a versatile rheology modifier, it has powerful capabilities in influencing the stability of formulations and contributing to enhanced performance of these materials in various applications.
Paints and coatings
Added to coatings and paints, Min-U-Gel® provides control over rheological properties. Its ability to transition from high to low viscosity under different shear rates ensures stable formulations during storage and easy application, contributing to the overall quality of the coatings.
Adhesives and sealants
Min-U-Gel® ensures proper bonding and sealing characteristics. Its high viscosity at low shear rates allows for easy application without dripping, while its low viscosity at high shear rates ensures uniform spreading and effective sealing.
In construction, Min-U-Gel® can be used in the formulation of various dry powder texture coatings, wet-mixed and dry-mixed mortars, and functional putties to improve the effectiveness and performance of the solutions.
Dry powder texture coatings
Its ability to influence viscosity ensures that the coating maintains the desired consistency during application. This is crucial for achieving uniform textures on surfaces, enhancing the visual appeal of architectural finishes.
By providing rheological control, Min-U-Gel® enhances the workability of mortars, making them easier to apply. Its adhesion-promoting properties contribute to the overall strength and durability of the mortar, ensuring a reliable bond with various construction substrates.
Whether used for filling gaps, smoothing surfaces, or as an adhesive agent, Min-U-Gel®’s rheological properties contribute to the uniformity and reliability of functional putties. This is particularly important in achieving desired finishes and ensuring the effectiveness of the putty in various construction scenarios.
Min-U-Gel® is a crucial contributor to the agricultural industry, often used to enhance soil quality, water retention and nutrient distribution for optimal crop growth.
Liquid animal feed & liquid suspension fertilisers
Min-U-Gel® works as an important thixotropic additive component, incorporated as an anti-caking agent in animal feed. By ensuring a controlled viscosity and preventing clumping, it helps to maintain the free-flowing nature of the animal feed to allow for better pumping and an even distribution.
When added to seed coatings, Min-U-Gel® acts as an effective binding agent which helps to enhance adhesion, ensuring a uniform and stable coating on each seed. This helps the coating become resistant to attrition and provides a protective layer to help safeguard seeds against external factors.
The Min-U-Gel® attapulgite range
Each product within the Min-U-Gel range is designed to cater to specific industrial needs, demonstrating the adaptability and performance enhancements derived from attapulgite.
This is a coarse-grade product typically used as a gelling and thickening agent in aqueous systems such as ceiling & wall texture compounds, ceiling tiles, plywood adhesives and tape joining compounds.
Specially developed for binding molecular sieves, Min-U-Gel® MB has controlled mineral, coating and chemical properties needed for the production of high quality molecular services.
Suitable for applications that require low residue, finer particle size and improved thixotropic and binding characteristics, Min-U-Gel® 300 is typically used as a binder in molecular sieves. It may also be used with associative thickeners where a low shear thixotrope is needed.
This is one of the lowest additives used for controlling rheology, suspension and syneresis, and is therefore typically used in paints & coatings. It may also be used as a binder in molecular sieves and ceramic catalysts and may be used on its own or with a thickener in applications where low shear thixotropy is needed to support the thickener’s high shear thixotropy.
Used to thicken and stabilise liquid systems, control syneresis, and reduce pigment floating and flooding. Min-U-Gel® 500+ offers a finer particle size for enhanced suspension and syneresis control, designed to be effective in various coating formulations including solvent-based systems such as oil and alcohol.
Which Min-U-Gel® product is right for your application?
RBH are a trusted partner of Active Minerals, licensed to distribute their market-leading Min-U-Gel® product range. Our highly experienced team can provide expert advice and technical support on the product that is best suited to your requirements.Back