A low energy route for the removal of Pluronic P123 surfactant template during the synthesis of SBA-15 mesoporous silicas is explored. The conventional reflux of the hybrid inorganic-organic intermediate formed during co-condensation routes to Pr-SOH-SBA-15 is slow, utilises large solvent volumes, and requires 24 h to remove ∼90% of the organic template. In contrast, room temperature ultrasonication in a small methanol volume achieves the same degree of template extraction in only 5 min, with a 99.9% energy saving and 90% solvent reduction, without compromising the textural, acidic or catalytic properties of the resultant Pr-SOH-SBA-15.
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Funding: EPSRC [EP/G007594/2, EP/F063423/2]; Royal Society