Preparation and Evaluation of New Nanoporous Silica Materials for Molecular Filtration and for Core Materials in Vacuum Insulation Panels

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Nanoporous materials for gas purification and thermal insulation have been studied and developed for application in many areas. It is known that a single adsorbent may not adequately control multiple contaminants. Further the utilization of nanoporous material as thermal insulator in building applications is limited due to high cost. Moreover, in view of the global environmental movement for clean air and reduction of heating energy consumption in built environment, the development of new and better nanoporous materials will not only facilitate major advances in gas adsorption and thermal insulation technology, but also meet the new challenges that cannot be met with the nanoporous materials that are currently available. This thesis presents a synthesis of new nanoporous silica based materials, and the characterization and application of these materials for molecular filtration and thermal insulation. Commercial nanoporous materials have been used for benchmarking for the pore properties, the applicability, and the performance of these new materials.First a double metal-silica adsorbent has been synthesized. The preparation procedure is based on the use of sodium silicate coagulated with various ratios of magnesium and calcium salts which yields micro-meso porous structures in the resulting material. The results show that molar ratios of Mg/Ca influence the pore parameters as well as the structure and morphology. The bimodal pore size can be tailored by controlling the Mg/Ca ratio.In the second synthesis, pure mesoporous silica, SNP has been prepared using glycerol as pore forming agent and monovalent salts as coagulant. This leads to material with large surface area and uniformed pore size centred at 43 or 47 nm.  The materials further exhibits a low bulk density in the range of 0.077 to 0.122 g/ml and possess a high porosity in the range of 95-97%. The influence of acid type (organic or inorganic) on the pore parameters and on the tapped density has also been investigated.  A synthesis method has also been developed for the preparation of carbon-silica composites. The method involves a number of routes, which can be summarised as addition of activated carbon particles to (I) the paste, (II) the salt solution, or (III) with the sodium silicate solution. In route II and III the activated carbon is present before coagulation. The routes presented here leads to carbon-silica composites possessing high micro porosity, meso porosity as well as large surface areas. The results further shows that pore size distribution may be tailored based on the route of addition of the carbon particles. Following route I and III a wide pore size (1-30 nm) was obtained whereas by route II a narrow pore size (1-4 nm) was observed.    MgCa-silica chemisorbents were also developed using either potassium hydroxide or potassium permanganate as impregnate chemicals. A direct or post-impregnation procedure was employed. The results revealed that the impregnate route and amount cause a reduction in both specific surface area and pore volume.Finally the thermal conductivity and dynamic adsorption of H2S, SO2 andtoluene were measured. Results show that at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, a thermal conductivity of 28.4 and 29.6 mW/m.K were obtained for the SNP mesoporous silicas. The dynamic adsorption behaviour of the chemisorbents and composites indicate their ability to absorbed H2S, SO2 andtoluene respectively. The highest H2S uptake corresponds to chemisorbents with 11.2-13.6 wt% KMnO4. The effect of impregnation route, amount of KMnO4 and its location in the pore system are likely the key factors in achieving a large H2S uptake. For SO2 adsorption, the highest uptake capacity was observed for MgCa-68/32-KOH. The results further suggest that the key to large SO2 uptake is as a result of the synergetic effect between large mesopore diameter and extensive mesopore volumes. Carbon-silica composites with carbon content 45 wt % exhibits high toluene adsorption with composite via route I having the highest toluene adsorption capacity (27.6 wt % relative to carbon content). The large uptake capacity of this composite was attributed to the presence of high microporosity volume and a wide (1-30 nm) bimodal pore system consisting of extensive mesopore channels (2-30 nm) as well as large surface area. These capacity values of carbon-silica composites are competitive to results obtained for commercial coconut based carbon (31 wt %), and better than commercial alumina-carbon composite (9.5 wt %).