Seed- and solvent-free synthesis of ZSM-5 with tuneable Si/Al ratios for biomass hydrogenation†
A novel method for the synthesis of MFI zeolites has been developed, which does not require any crystal seeds or solvent. The adaptability of this method was also evidenced; a series of ZSM-5 zeolites with differing Si/Al ratios (18∼∞) were synthesized, which to date, has been a challenge in the field of solvent-free synthesis. The materials were probed by in situ DRIFTS and 2D 27Al–19F HETCOR NMR spectroscopy, the results from which indicated that fluorine-containing species play a crucial role in the crystallization of ZSM-5. During the crystallization process F− anions coordinate with Al3+ cations, resulting in the formation of 6-coordinated “F–Al–O–Si” species. It is these intermediate species which drive the formation of tetrahedral [AlO4]− units in the zeolitic framework. The effectiveness of these materials as catalyst supports was subsequently assessed in the hydrogenation of levulinic acid and glucose, which exhibited a comparable performance to commercial ZSM-5. The simple, efficient and low-cost method presented herein provides an alternative approach for the green scaled-up synthesis of zeolites.