Testing the limits of zeolite structural flexibility: ultrafast introduction of mesoporosity in zeolites†
A mild alkaline treatment with the assistance of surfactants has proved to be an effective way to introduce uniform mesopores into zeolites, yielding hierarchical materials with superior catalytic performance. Accelerating this process may open new opportunities in the scale-up of this new class of materials. In this study, we present an ultrafast surfactant-templating (UST) approach achieved within only a few minutes for the fast production of mesoporous ultra-stable Y (USY) zeolites by combining several favorable factors including high treating temperature, reactors featuring fast heating, and optimized reagent composition. Temperatures in the range of 150–220 °C yielded high quality materials, while too high temperatures (260–280 °C) produced inferior samples. The use of a flow reactor allowed for completing the UST in just one minute, which evidences the remarkable structural flexibility of zeolites that can reorganize in such a short time to accommodate a large amount of intracrystalline mesoporosity, without compromising their integrity or main properties.