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A combustion-free methodology for synthesizing zeolites and zeolite-like materials


Zeolites are mainly used for the adsorption and separation of ions and small molecules, and as heterogeneous catalysts. More recently, these materials are receiving attention in other applications, such as medical diagnosis and as components in electronic devices1. Modern synthetic methodologies for preparing zeolites and zeolite-like materials typically involve the use of organic molecules that direct the assembly pathway and ultimately fill the pore space2,3,4,5,6. Removal of these enclathrated species normally requires high temperature combustion that destroys this high cost component, and the associated energy release in combination with the formed water can be extremely detrimental to the inorganic structure7. Here we report a synthetic methodology that avoids these difficulties by creating organic structure-directing agents (SDAs) that can be disassembled within the zeolite pore space to allow removal of their fragments for possible use again by reassembly. The methodology is shown for the synthesis of zeolite ZSM-5 using a SDA that contains a cyclic ketal group that is removed from the SDA while it is inside the zeolite without destruction of the inorganic framework. This approach should be applicable to the synthesis of a wide variety of inorganic and organometallic structures.

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Figure 1: Schematic representations of synthetic methodology.
Figure 2: Powder X-ray diffraction patterns.
Figure 3: 13C CP MAS NMR spectra.

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We thank S. J. Hwang for assistance with NMR measurements, and L. T. Yuen and B. Lee for performing the catalytic testing. This work was supported by the ChevronTexaco Research and Technology Company.

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Correspondence to Mark E. Davis.

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Lee, H., Zones, S. & Davis, M. A combustion-free methodology for synthesizing zeolites and zeolite-like materials. Nature 425, 385–388 (2003).

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