A research leaded by the ITQ (UPV-CSIC) in the Top 10 of Science breakthrough of 2011.


Valencia, 28 December, 2011.- Science has published last week the list of the 10 most relevant breakthrough of 2011. In the list, the prestigious journal highlights, among others, the progress made in the development of synthetic zeolites where we can find a research leaded by the Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ), joint centre of the Universitat Politècnica de València and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). This research allowed to synthesize and to determine the structure of a new synthetic zeolite with different pore sizes and extraordinary chemical properties named ITQ-43.

The investigation, leaded by Prof. Corma of the ITQ, was developed in collaboration with other researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz University (Germany), and the State Key Laboratory of Inorganic. The results were published in Science last August.

These results represent a step forward in Green Chemistry. The researchers achieve for the first time, the direct synthesis of a zeolite with mesopores and micropores hierarchically connected that allow the reaction of molecules of different sizes.

This new zeolite can be useful in transformation of crude oil in gasoline and diesel, diminishing the amount of sulphured and nitrogenated compounds, producing more clean fuels. Furthermore, it could be applied also for natural gas transformation into liquid fuel, to contribute to obtaining useful chemical products from biomass and also other potential uses like in gas storage, electronics, medicine and perfume industry.

As explained by Science, the zeolites are porous minerals that were discovered in 1756. Since then, more that 40 natural zeolites have been found and thanks to chemical research, around 150 zeolites have been synthesized. At this time, the production of zeolites is around 3 million tons per year having multiple applications, for example in washing powders and soaps, agriculture etc. but the most important is their use in petrochemistry as catalyst and molecular sieve.

“The interest of this research is based on the achievement of tailor-made pore design. This has allowed, for the first time, to synthesize a zeolitic structure with interconnected large and extra-large pores. In this new structure, the extra-large pores can diffuse and react with big molecules to obtain products that can at the same time, react in the large pores. The final objective is to synthesized structures with pore diameter and type of active sites adapted to the molecules that are going to react”, explains Prof. Corma.

The mention of this research in Science Top Ten of 2011 makes evidence of the international leadership of the Institute of Chemical Technology (UPV-CSIC). Apart from this article, Science highlights other developments made in this area by South Korea, Minnesota and France researchers.

Moreover, for the first time since 1989 where the breakthrough of the year was established by Science, there are other two articles in the Top 10 list where Spanish Research Centers have collaborated, the Centre de Recerca en Salut International (Cresib) for a study related to the malaria vaccine and the Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca (VHIR) and Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) for a research related to human microbiome.