The potential use of the solvothermal extraction (SE) as a preliminary step to calcination for detemplating SBA-15 mesophases is investigated; aiming to reduce the amount of organics to be burnt and thereby the corresponding structural shrinkage. A systematic study was carried out by soxhlet extraction on mesophases hydrothermally aged between 90 and 130 C. The mesophases containing variable amounts of template were then treated by calcination or pyrolysis/calcination. TGA was applied to quantify the template amount after the various treatments. The as obtained materials were characterized by SAXS and Ar ad/desorption for structural and textural information while 1H NMR gave information about the integrity of the as-recycled template. The study shows that solvothermal conditions remove considerably the template, typically from 50 to 10-20 wt.%, mainly extracted from the primary mesopores. Possible reuse of the extracted template is questionable as it is poor in polyethyleneoxide compared to the synthesis block-copolymer, Pluronic P123. For all thermal protocols applied (direct calcination, calcination after solvent-extraction or pyrolysis/calcination after solvent extraction), the thermal shrinkage decreases with the aging temperature; that is consistent with the condensation degree of the silica. For each mesophase, it was found that the thermal shrinkage becomes less pronounced when the material is fully templated; thus the template can serve as structural support or can control the mass transfer of O2 and thereby the oxidation rate of the template burning.
- solvothermal extraction
- thermal shrinkage