An organoclay complex was synthesized by placing quaternary ammonium compound on low-charge bentonite (CEC = 90 meq/100 g) through cation exchange reaction. This kind of compex was examined for its ability to adsorb non-polar hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and o-xylene (BETX). The organic cation used in this study was the tricaprylmethylammonium (TCMA) ion which contains long-chain alkyl (tricapryl) groups of high hydrophobicity. The characteristics of TCMA-bentonite are presented from the results of Infrared red spectrum.

The high adsorption of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and o-xylene from aqueous solutions by TCMA-bentonite is found to be related to their hydrophobicity and water solubility. Free swell tests are also presented to contrast the swelling properties of bentonite with and without quaternary ammonium cations. The laboratory scale tests indicate that TCMA-bentonite could be used as an adsorbent to enhance the purification of aromatic hydrocarbon-contaminated water or act as a liner material for removing non-polar contaminants.

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