This paper reports a systematic study on the preparation, characterization and testing of metallosilicate macrobeads that contain chromium ions as active catalytic centers. In order to obtain hard macrospheres, four metals (Cr, Al, Zr and Zn) were incorporated into the silica matrix using chitosan as a template and shape generator. Metallosilicate macrospheres were synthesized at room temperature using tetraethylorthosilicate as silicon source and chlorohydric acid as catalyst. The size of metallosilicate macrospheres was in the range 0.9 - 1.1 mm. The catalyst was characterised by means of water sorption technique, FTIR spectroscopy and SEM/EDX analyses. FTIR spectra put into evidence the presence of metallic ions within the silica framework. EDX analyses confirmed the efficient incorporation of metals within the silica matrix (the content of metals from the calcined catalyst is almost the same as that from the initial gel mixture). Porous structure of catalyst investigated by water sorption technique and by pycnometric methods (with n-heptan and mercury respectively) proved that the synthesized catalyst had micro, meso and macropores. Catalyst was tested in the esterification reaction of acetic acid with epichlorohydrin. The temperature and the amount of catalyst exerted a marked influence on reaction rate. This work opens new perspectives for heterogeneous catalysis encouraging the replacement of powder catalysts with macrospherical catalysts that are easy to recover and to reuse.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.