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Porous silica cleans up air
14 August 2006
Porous materials can help tackle air pollution, say scientists in Japan.
Mahendra Kapoor from the food and pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing company Taiyo Kagaku, Mie, and colleagues made a mesoporous hybrid inorganic-organic silica material with a three-dimensional structure. The researchers say the material is highly effective at removing the volatile organic compound (VOC) acetaldehyde from air.
VOCs are partly responsible for ground level ozone, air pollution and smog. Mesoporous materials with two-dimensional structures have been used to adsorb VOCs, but according to Kapoor, three-dimensional structures would be more effective because the pollutant should be able to diffuse into the material more easily.
Kapoor's team, who research mesoporous materials for use as drug and nutrition delivery agents, prepared phenylene-bridged mesoporous silica using an allylorganosilane precursor. The team then added sulfonic acid groups to the material. Kapoor said this preparation method could have a great impact on future work. 'The use of allylorganosilane precursors could be preferable in terms of cost, easier handling and purification,' he said. Kapoor said the materials showed exceptional ability at capturing acetaldehyde and that these could be vital materials for limiting air pollution by VOC's.
Feng-Shou Xiao, an expert in inorganic materials at Jilin University, Changchun, China, agreed. 'The cubic mesophase of phenylene-bridged silica could be a potential material for controlling the atmospheric emission of volatile organic compounds,' said Xiao.
M P Kapoor, M Yanagi, Y Kasama, T Yokoyama, S Inagaki, T Shimada, H Nanbu and L R Juneja, J. Mater. Chem., 16, 3305