In the present work, parameters influencing the selectivity of the synthesis of FAU-zeolites from diatomite were studied. The final products after varying synthesis time were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction and gas adsorption. It was found that high concentrations of NaCl could completely inhibit the formation of zeolite P, which otherwise usually forms as soon as maximum FAU crystallinity is reached. In the presence of NaCl, the FAU crystals were stable for extended time after completed crystallization of FAU before formation of sodalite. It was also found that addition of NaCl barely changed the crystallization kinetics of FAU zeolite and only reduced the final FAU particle size and SiO2/Al2O3 ratio slightly. Other salts containing either Na or Cl were also investigated. Our results suggest that there is a synergistic effect between Na+ and Cl−. This is attributed to the formation of (Na4Cl)3+ clusters that stabilize the sodalite cages. This new finding may be used to increase the selectivity of syntheses leading to FAU-zeolites and avoid the formation of undesirable by-products, especially if impure natural sources of aluminosilica are used.
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