ITQ-52 is a new zeolite that could find industrial applications in catalysis, gas adsorption and separation, encapsulation and controlled release of molecules, among others. It can be very useful to obtain high-quality petrol. The structure of ITQ-52 has been solved using high resolution synchrotron X-ray diffraction data collected at beamline 04-MSPD. This research has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. 

Zeolites are microporous crystalline materials with a regular structure of pores that allows the entrance of molecules through and permits chemical reactions depending on the topology of their structural pores. “The structure acts as a sieve, enabling the molecules to pass through only if they are smaller than the pores”, says José Luis Jordá, one of the researchers of the project. This is why they are frequently used in many catalytic processes, having a great impact on several industries such as the petrochemical, fine chemical production and air separation.

In this research, members of the Instituto de Tecnología Química (UPV-CSIC) from Valencia have synthetized this new zeolite (named ITQ-52) using amino-phosphonium cations as organic structure-directing agents (OSDA) to control the size and shape of the pores. 

High resolution diffraction experiments were performed at beamline 04-MSPD of the ALBA Synchrotron for solving the structure of zeolite ITQ-52. Knowing the structure of the new zeolite helps researchers to find possible applications of the new material by matching the pore geometry with the chemicals, intermediate states and products involved in the target process.

Possible processes for application of this new zeolite ITQ-52 could be alkylation of aromatics or selective separation of hydrocarbons, in which the pore structure is of paramount importance. “It can be very useful to obtain high-quality petrol” , says Fernando Rey, researcher from ITQ. 

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