Multi-level Modeling of Silica–Template Interactions During Initial Stages of Zeolite Synthesis

T. Verstraelen, B.M. Szyja, D. Lesthaeghe, R. Declerck, V. Van Speybroeck, M. Waroquier, A.P.J. Jansen, A. Aerts, L.R.A Follens, J.A. Martens, C. Kirschhock, R.A. van Santen
Topics in Catalysis
52 (9), 1261-1271


Zeolite synthesis is driven by structure-directing agents, such as tetrapropyl ammonium ions (TPA(+)) for Silicalite-1 and ZSM-5. However, the guiding role of these organic templates in the complex assembly to highly ordered frameworks remains unclear, limiting the prospects for advanced material synthesis. In this work, both static ab initio and dynamic classical modeling techniques are employed to provide insight into the interactions between TPA(+) and Silicalite-1 precursors. We find that as soon as the typical straight 10-ring channel of Silicalite-1 or ZSM-5 is formed from smaller oligomers, the TPA(+) template is partially squeezed out of the resulting cavity. Partial retention of the template in the cavity is, however, indispensable to prevent collapse of the channel and subsequent hydrolysis.