Highly mesoporous SAPO-11 molecular sieves with tunable acidity: facile synthesis, formation mechanism and catalytic performance in hydroisomerization of n-dodecane†
The pore architecture and acidity of zeolite materials play crucial roles in the activity and selectivity of catalytic reactions. Herein, hierarchical SAPO-11 molecular sieve microspheres with uniform intercrystalline mesoporosity (ca. 4.3 nm) and tunable acidity were synthesized via dry-gel conversion (DGC) of a silicoaluminophosphate–organosilane composite. The products were comprehensively characterized using multiple techniques, including XRD, SEM, TEM, N2 adsorption–desorption, NH3-TPD, pyridine-adsorbed IR (Py-IR), TG and 29Si MAS NMR measurements. It is revealed that the products' acidity can be precisely tuned in a wide range by simply adjusting the water content used in the synthesis. The growth of such hierarchical SAPO-11 underwent a rearrangement of the mesopores: the original mesopores (ca. 17 nm) of the precursor were collapsed at the initial stage of crystallization and the final mesopores of the products were directed by the organosilane. More importantly, the Pt/hierarchical SAPO-11 catalysts exhibited enhanced isomerization selectivity in the hydroisomerization of n-dodecane, attributed to their excellent diffusion properties resulting from the hierarchical pore network. This work demonstrates a facile approach to synthesize hierarchical zeolites with tunable acidity, which is beneficial for catalytic reactions involving bulky molecules.