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A Novel and Green Approach to Produce Nano- Porous Materials Zeolite A and MCM-41 from Coal Fly Ash and their Applications in Environmental Protection

Authors: K. S. Hui, K. N. Hui, Seong Kon Lee


Zeolite A and MCM-41 have extensive applications in basic science, petrochemical science, energy conservation/storage, medicine, chemical sensor, air purification, environmentally benign composite structure and waste remediation. However, the use of zeolite A and MCM-41 in these areas, especially environmental remediation, are restricted due to prohibitive production cost. Efficient recycling of and resource recovery from coal fly ash has been a major topic of current international research interest, aimed at achieving sustainable development of human society from the viewpoints of energy, economy, and environmental strategy. This project reported an original, novel, green and fast methods to produce nano-porous zeolite A and MCM-41 materials from coal fly ash. For zeolite A, this novel production method allows a reduction by half of the total production time while maintaining a high degree of crystallinity of zeolite A which exists in a narrower particle size distribution. For MCM-41, this remarkably green approach, being an environmentally friendly process and reducing generation of toxic waste, can produce pure and long-range ordered MCM-41 materials from coal fly ash. This approach took 24 h at 25 oC to produce 9 g of MCM-41 materials from 30 g of the coal fly ash, which is the shortest time and lowest reaction temperature required to produce pure and ordered MCM-41 materials (having the largest internal surface area) compared to the values reported in the literature. Performance evaluation of the produced zeolite A and MCM-41 materials in wastewater treatment and air pollution control were reported. The residual fly ash was also converted to zeolite Na-P1 which showed good performance in removal of multi-metal ions in wastewater. In wastewater treatment, compared to commercial-grade zeolite A, adsorbents produced from coal fly ash were effective in removing multi heavy metal ions in water and could be an alternative material for treatment of wastewater. In methane emission abatement, the zeolite A (produced from coal fly ash) achieved similar methane removal efficiency compared to the zeolite A prepared from pure chemicals. This report provides the guidance for production of zeolite A and MCM-41 from coal fly ash by a cost-effective approach which opens potential applications of these materials in environmental industry. Finally, environmental and economic aspects of production of zeolite A and MCM-41 from coal fly ash were discussed.

Keywords: methane, Waste water, Volatile Organic Compounds, metal ions

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