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New nanostructured aluminosilicates from geopolymer chemistry

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Geopolymers, a class of X-ray amorphous, ceramic-like aluminosilicate materials are produced at ambient temperatures through a process called geopolymerization. Due to both low energy requirement during synthesis and interesting mechanical and chemical properties, geopolymers are grabbing enormous attention.

Geopolymers, a class of X-ray amorphous, ceramic-like aluminosilicate materials are produced at ambient temperatures through a process called geopolymerization. Due to both low energy requirement during synthesis and interesting mechanical and chemical properties, geopolymers are grabbing enormous attention. Although geopolymers have a broad range of applications including thermal/acoustic insulation and waste immobilization, they are always prepared in monolithic form. The primary aim of this study is to produce new nanostructured materials from the geopolymerization process, including porous monoliths and powders.

In view of the current interest in porous geopolymers for non-traditional applications, it is becoming increasingly important to develop synthetic techniques to introduce interconnected pores into the geopolymers. This study presents a simple synthetic route to produce hierarchically porous geopolymers via a reactive emulsion templating process utilizing triglyceride oil. In this new method, highly alkaline geopolymer resin is mixed with canola oil to form a homogeneous viscous emulsion which, when cured at 60 °C, gives a hard monolithic material. During the process, the oil in the alkaline emulsion undergoes a saponification reaction to decompose into water-soluble soap and glycerol molecules which are extracted to yield porous geopolymers. Nitrogen sorption studies indicates the presence of mesopores, whereas the SEM studies reveals that the mesoporous geopolymer matrix is dotted with spherical macropores. The method exhibits flexibility in that the pore structure of the final porous geopolymers products can be adjusted by varying the precursor composition.

In a second method, the geopolymerization process is modified to produce highly dispersible geopolymer particles, by activating metakaolin with sodium silicate solutions containing excess alkali, and curing for short duration under moist conditions. The produced geopolymer particles exhibit morphology similar to carbon blacks and structured silicas, while also being stable over a wide pH range.

Finally, highly crystalline hierarchical faujasite zeolites are prepared by yet another modification of the geopolymerization process. In this technique, the second method is combined with a saponification reaction of triglyceride oil. The resulting hierarchical zeolites exhibit superior CO2-sorption properties compared to equivalent commercially available and currently reported materials. Additionally, the simplicity of all three of these techniques means they are readily scalable.

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2015

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Mechanistic studies of one-electron reduced bipyridine reactions relevant to carbon dioxide sequestration

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Increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will inevitably lead to long-term changes in climate that can have serious consequences. Controlling anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, however, represents a significant technological challenge. Various chemical approaches have

Increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will inevitably lead to long-term changes in climate that can have serious consequences. Controlling anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, however, represents a significant technological challenge. Various chemical approaches have been suggested, perhaps the most promising of these is based on electrochemical trapping of carbon dioxide using pyridine and derivatives. Optimization of this process requires a detailed understanding of the mechanisms of the reactions of reduced pyridines with carbon dioxide, which are not currently well known. This thesis describes a detailed mechanistic study of the nucleophilic and Bronsted basic properties of the radical anion of bipyridine as a model pyridine derivative, formed by one-electron reduction, with particular emphasis on the reactions with carbon dioxide. A time-resolved spectroscopic method was used to characterize the key intermediates and determine the kinetics of the reactions of the radical anion and its protonated radical form. Using a pulsed nanosecond laser, the bipyridine radical anion could be generated in-situ in less than 100 ns, which allows fast reactions to be monitored in real time. The bipyridine radical anion was found to be a very powerful one-electron donor, Bronsted base and nucleophile. It reacts by addition to the C=O bonds of ketones with a bimolecular rate constant around 1* 107 M-1 s-1. These are among the fastest nucleophilic additions that have been reported in literature. Temperature dependence studies demonstrate very low activation energies and large Arrhenius pre-exponential parameters, consistent with very high reactivity. The kinetics of E2 elimination, where the radical anion acts as a base, and SN2 substitution, where the radical anion acts as a nucleophile, are also characterized by large bimolecular rate constants in the range ca. 106 - 107 M-1 s-1. The pKa of the bipyridine radical anion was measured using a kinetic method and analysis of the data using a Marcus theory model for proton transfer. The bipyridine radical anion is found to have a pKa of 40±5 in DMSO. The reorganization energy for the proton transfer reaction was found to be 70±5 kJ/mol. The bipyridine radical anion was found to react very rapidly with carbon dioxide, with a bimolecular rate constant of 1* 108 M-1 s-1 and a small activation energy, whereas the protonated radical reacted with carbon dioxide with a rate constant that was too small to measure. The kinetic and thermodynamic data obtained in this work can be used to understand the mechanisms of the reactions of pyridines with carbon dioxide under reducing conditions.

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2015