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Success Scored by French and Bulgarian Scientists – New Zeolithic Materials with Unique Characteristics Published by the Nature Materials Journal

In an article published in one of the most prestigious scientific journals, Nature Materials, scientists from the University of Caen, France, and from Sofia University report on the synthesis and the comprehensive characterization of zeolites devoid of any structural defects through the introduction of tungsten.

The zeolites are crystal substances widely used in the chemical and petrol industries but they usually display various structural defects. The present scientific success lies in the obtaining of substances devoid of any structural defects. As a result, the newly obtained zeolites, labeled W-MFI, display unique characteristics: they are hydrophobic and possess moderately strong active centers. They are also considerably more stable than the standard zeolites.

Another advantage of the newly invented substances is the size of the zeolithic crystals – about 100 nanometers, thus allowing for more efficient use of the zeolite surface in catalytic processes and the limitation in the occurrence of side products such as coke which decreases the catalyst’s activity. The unique properties of these zeolites make them potential candidates for effective catalysts both in the traditional industrial processes and in the new technologies such as the conversion of natural gas to industrial chemicals and the conversion of biomass waste to fuels. In this way, processes, which have been conducted in laboratory conditions thus far, can be implemented in the industry. Additionally, the new zeolithic substances display specific affinity to hold back industrial greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

The research is an example of successful cooperation between Bulgarian scholars working in this country and abroad. The method of synthesis was developed at the Laboratory for Catalysis and Spectral Chemistry of the French Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Caen, and the team was led by Professor Svetlana Mintova with the participation of Professor Valentin Vulchev, both of them having graduated and obtained their Ph.D’s in this country and started their scientific career at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; for the past two decades both have been working abroad. The experimental research work of the new substances was conducted in the same laboratory with the participation of French scholars.

The contribution of the Sofia University team, including Professor Georgi Vaysilov and Associate Professor Christian Alexandrov, focused both on the specification of the quantum chemical methods of the configuration, stability and the electronic properties of the tungsten centers in the zeolithic net and the relation of the observed experimental characteristics with the zeolite structure on molecular level.

Link to the publication:

Nature Mater. (2017) 10.1038/nmat4941

J. Grand, S. N. Talapaneni, A. Vicente, C. Fernandez, E. Dib, H. A. Aleksandrov, G. N. Vayssilov, R. Retoux, P. Boullay, J.-P. Gilson, V. Valtchev and S. Mintova

“One-pot synthesis of silanol-free nanosized MFI zeolite”