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Effect of composition, solvent exchange liquid and drying method on the porous structure of phenol-formaldehyde gels

Shitta-Bey, Gbolahan O. and Mirzaeian, Mojtaba and Hall, Peter J. (2011) Effect of composition, solvent exchange liquid and drying method on the porous structure of phenol-formaldehyde gels. Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology, 57 (2). pp. 178-184. ISSN 0928-0707

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Abstract

Organic gels have been synthesized by sol-gel polycondensation of phenol (P) and formaldehyde (F) catalyzed by sodium carbonate (C). The effect of synthesis parameters such as phenol/catalyst ratio (P/C), solvent exchange liquid and drying method, on the porous structure of the gels have been investigated. The total and mesopore volumes of the PF gels increased with increasing P/C ratio in the range of P/C a parts per thousand currency sign 8, after this both properties started to decrease with P/C ratio for P/C > 8 and the gel with P/C = 8 showed the highest total and mesopore volumes of 1.281 and 1.279 cm(3) g(-1) respectively. The gels prepared by freeze drying possessed significantly higher porosities than the vacuum dried gels. The pore volume and average pore diameter of the freeze dried gels were significantly higher than those of the vacuum dried gels. T-butanol emerged as the preferred solvent for the removal of water from the PF hydrogel prior to drying, as significantly higher pore volumes and specific surface areas were obtained in the corresponding dried gels. The results showed that freeze drying with t-butanol and lower P/C ratios were favourable conditions for the synthesis of highly mesoporous phenol-formaldehyde gels.