High-silica ZSM-5 crystals were grown in the microgravity environment (10-3-10-6 g) of the space shuttle from precursor solutions held unmixed until activation on orbit. The flight crystals grown from untreated (not heat-treated) silica gel grade 12 had the intergrown disk morphology and were larger than the spherulitic aggregates of small elementary crystals observed for the terrestrial/control samples. The flight and the terrestrial/control crystals grown from silica gel grade 12 heat-treated at 973 K prior to synthesis had similar intergrown disk morphologies. The similar morphologies of the flight crystals grown from untreated silica gel and the terrestrial/control crystals grown from heat-treated silica gel imply that the nucleation rate of ZSM-5 was reduced in microgravity. The results of isomerization of 2,4,4-trimethyl-l-pentene (2,4,4-TMP-1) to 2,4,4-trimethyl-2-pentene on crystals grown from untreated silica gel showed that the flight crystals exhibited a lower external surface activity than the terrestrial/control crystals with an identical total external surface area (~0.6% conversion of 2,4,4-TMP-1 after 3 h on flight versus ~1.3% conversion on the terrestrial crystals). This indicated that the flight crystals had a lower surface roughness than their terrestrial controls. An atomic force microscopy examination of the crystal surfaces confirmed these results. In contrast, both the flight and the terrestrial/control crystals grown from heat-treated silica gel had similar surface topographies and roughness. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
- Crystal growth
- Hydrothermal synthesis