Mesostructured zeolites: bridging the gap between zeolites and MCM-41
Surfactant-templating is one of the most versatile and useful techniques to implement mesoporous systems into solid materials. Various strategies based on various interactions between surfactants and solid precursors have been explored to produce new structures. Zeolites are invaluable as size- and shape-selective solid acid catalysts. Nevertheless, their micropores impose limitations on the mass transport of bulky feed and/or product molecules. Many studies have attempted to address this by utilizing surfactant-assisting technology to alleviate the diffusion constraints. However, most efforts have failed due to micro/mesopore phase separation. Recently, a new technique combining the uses of cationic surfactants and mild basic solutions was introduced to synthesise mesostructured zeolites. These materials sustain the unique characteristics of zeolites (i.e., strong acidity, crystallinity, microporosity, and hydrothermal stability), including tunable mesopore sizes and degrees of mesoporosity. The mesostructured zeolites are now commercially available through Rive Technology, and show superior performance in VGO cracking. This feature article provides an overview of recent explorations in the introduction of mesoporosity into zeolites using surfactant-templating techniques. Various porous materials, preparation methods, physical and catalytic properties of mesostructured zeolites will be discussed.