My watch list
my.chemeurope.com  
Login  

Cut-and-paste zeolites: new, faster method for developing custom microporous materials

23-Nov-2012

Zeolites are minerals with a microporous structure. This makes them attractive as catalysts in industrial applications. Unfortunately, creating synthetic zeolites is very complex. Researchers at KU Leuven, Ghent University and the University of Antwerp have discovered a way to make new zeolites quickly. “The method is faster than existing methods and contributes to the development of a more sustainable, greener chemical industry," says KU Leuven Professor Christine Kirschhock.

Zeolites are best known for their ubiquitous use as water softeners in detergents and as catalysts in industry. A catalyst is a mediator that increases the efficiency of chemical reactions, saving huge amounts of energy. Zeolites are robust and reusable – making them environmentally friendly catalysts.

There are various types of zeolites, each with their own specific structure and porous make-up. Naturally-occurring zeolites are often unsuitable for industrial applications because their pores are small. Developing synthetic zeolites, however, is very complex and often a matter of trial and error. Around 200 different synthetic zeolites currently exist, of which only 20 are actually used in industry. The desired properties of the zeolite – its composition, pore size, reusability and so on – change with each new application. Until now, designing a zeolite with predetermined characteristics was impossible.

Researchers from Leuven, Ghent and Antwerp have now experimentally demonstrated that it is possible to cut zeolite building blocks and rearrange them into a new structure. Professor Christine Kirschhock of KU Leuven explains: “A zeolite can be thought of as a set of merged building blocks. We are now able to separate certain blocks of a zeolite and then reassemble them into different configurations, depending on the desired properties.”

This generic method for creating new zeolites has significant advantages: “In addition to new possibilities for applications, the method contributes to the development of a more sustainable, greener chemical industry. It is the first-ever example of customizable zeolite design.”

Original publication:

Christine Kirschhock ,Veronique Van Speybroeck, Gustaaf Van Tendeloo et. al, Design of zeolite by inverse sigma transformation, Nature Materials 2012

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • Katholieke Universi…
More about Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
  • News

    Electronic nose smells pesticides and nerve gas

    Detecting pesticides and nerve gas in very low concentrations. An international team of researchers led by Ivo Stassen and Rob Ameloot from KU Leuven, Belgium, have made it possible. The best-known electronic nose is the breathalyser. As drivers breathe into the device, a chemical sensor me ... more

    Designer crystals for next-gen electronics

    Liquid is often seen as the kryptonite of electronics, known for damaging and corroding components. That's why a new process that uses vapour- rather than liquid - to grow designer crystals could lead to a new breed of faster, more powerful electronic devices. The method, invented by an int ... more

    Scientists develop diesel that emits far less CO2

    Researchers from KU Leuven and Utrecht University have discovered a new approach to the production of fuels. Their new method can be used to produce much cleaner diesel. It can quickly be scaled up for industrial use. In 5 to 10 years, we may see the first cars driven by this new clean dies ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE