Zeolites are microporous
Microporous material
A microporous material is a material containing pores with diameters less than 2 nm.Porous materials are classified into several kinds by their size. According to IUPAC notation A microporous material is a material containing pores with diameters less than 2 nm.Porous materials are...

, aluminosilicate
Aluminosilicate minerals are minerals composed of aluminium, silicon, and oxygen, plus countercations. They are a major component of kaolin and other clay minerals....

A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

s commonly used as commercial adsorbents. The term zeolite was originally coined in 1756 by Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 mineralogist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt
Axel Fredrik Cronstedt
Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt was a Swedish mineralogist and chemist who discovered nickel in 1751 as a mining expert with the Bureau of Mines. Cronstedt described it as kupfernickel...

, who observed that upon rapidly heating the material stilbite
Stilbite is the name of a series of tectosilicate minerals of the zeolite group. Prior to 1997, stilbite was recognized as a mineral species, but a reclassification in 1997 by the International Mineralogical Association changed it to a series name, with the mineral species being named:*...

, it produced large amounts of steam from water that had been adsorbed by the material. Based on this, he called the material zeolite, from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

  (zéo̱), meaning "to boil" and (líthos), meaning "stone".

As of November 2010, 194 unique zeolite frameworks have been identified, and over 40 naturally occurring zeolite frameworks are known.

Zeolites are widely used in industry for water purification, as catalysts, for the preparation of advanced materials and in nuclear reprocessing.