Hydrated silicate ionic liquids for zeolite synthesis

01 January 2018 → 31 December 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
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Project description

Zeolites are the workhorses for sustainable industrial chemistry but also for emerging new applications. The more surprising is the fact their genesis still remains largely in the dark. Hydrated silicate ionic liquids (HSILs) are clear liquids without presence of any gel or particle fraction. Having been described long ago, they never were considered for zeolite synthesis. Their water content is so low that every water molecule takes part in hydration of (alumino)-silicate –ation ion pairs. This offers ideal conditions for a detailed fundamental study of zeolite formation: No hydrothermal pressure is expressed during heating and diagnostics, usually obstructed by presence of gel or particles in classic syntheses, can access processes occurring on molecular, mesoscale and macroscopic level. Furthermore, a preliminary study has revealed the speciation in these systems is limited and well defined, that zeolites can be synthesized at low temperatures and short times and that onset of zeolite formation can be controlled by aluminate addition. This project will focus on unraveling zeolite nucleation and growth on molecular level, combining state of the art liquid and solid state NMR, SAXS, DLS and WAXS with molecular simulation. Asides the opportunity to describe zeolite formation with unprecedented accuracy the study also will lead to development of new synthesis approaches like continuous zeolite synthesis and hierarchical functional materials.