Process Intensification of Mesoporous Material's Synthesis by Microwave-Assisted Surfactant Removal

Lidia López-Pérez, Marco Antonio López-Martínez, Kristina Djanashvili, Kinga Góra-Marek, Karolina A. Tarach, María Emma Borges, Ignacio Melián-Cabrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Mesoporous materials are of vital importance for use in separation, adsorption, and catalysis. The first step in their preparation consists of synthesizing an organic-inorganic hybrid in which a structuring directing agent (SDA, normally a surfactant) is used to provide the desired porosity. The most common method to eliminate the SDA, and generate the porosity, is high-Temperature calcination. Such a process is energy-intensive and slow. In this study, we investigated alternative nonthermal surfactant removal methods on a soft MCM-41 material, aiming at reducing the processing time and temperature, while maximizing the material's properties. The choice of a soft MCM-41 is critical since it is hydrothermally unstable, whereas the SDA removal is troublesome. Microwave processing yielded outstanding performance in terms of surfactant removal, structural preservation, and textural features; the surfactant was fully removed, the hexagonal structure was preserved, and the surface was highly rich in Si-OH groups. It is suggested that H2O2 is the dominant oxidant. In terms of the process features, the processing time is significantly reduced, 14 h (calcination) versus 5 min (microwaves), and the applied temperature is much lower. The energy savings were estimated to be 72% lower as compared to calcination; therefore, this approach contributes to the process intensification of a very relevant material's production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16814-16822
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • energy-saving processing
  • HOoxidation
  • microwave-Assisted processing
  • mild SDA removal
  • quick-processing
  • structural preservation
  • structured mesoporous material


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