Halloysite is a natural nano clay with identical chemistry to the more common kaolinite clay. There has been a huge amount of hype around this product but actual commercial applications have been very slow to develop. The performance is not sufficient to justify the price, or in many instances, the results shown in academic articles cannot be replicated in an industrial setting. Nevertheless, several commercial sources of halloysite exist, so that may drive down price over time.
While synthetic nanotubes have been the subject of much attention, they have proven expensive to manufacture. The idea of a natural nanotube has great appeal to the scientific community but also to industry. It would seem clear that a nanotube, with a price similar to kaolin, would be a hit.
The tubes vary depending on the deposit from which they come. By far the most well-known is Imerys’ New Zealand deposit. Imerys is a world-leading producer of minerals and they have sold high purity halloysite, mainly for fine china and porcelain, for many years. Many other deposits have been reported all around the world. During my tenure as CTO of a halloysite company, I counted around 50 deposits, of which perhaps five or so seemed potentially viable. I collected and read over 700 articles and patents on halloysite to become the leading expert on the subject. Some of that information will be outlined here.
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