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Exchange reactions of Ca-bentonite with zirconyl chloride, zirconyl-alumino-halohydroxy complexes, colloidal aluminosilicate solutions, and colloidal alumina particles generated a family of microporous materials which, after heating in air at 400°C for 4 hr, have Langmuir surface areas of 300–500 m2/g, pore volumes of 0.16–0.21 cmVg, and basal spacings in the range 17.6–19.0 Å.

The most stable structures were obtained by pillaring the bentonite with either hydroxyaluminum oligomers or colloidal alumina particles. After heating in air for 4 hr at 750°C, these products retained ~70% of their original surface area and most of their catalytic activity for gas-oil conversion. They were also found to be hydrothermally stable (10 hr with 95% steam at 1 atm) to 700°C. These pillared bentonites were thermally more stable (to ~700°C vs. ~600°C) and exhibited greater cracking activity for gas-oil than similarly prepared hectorites; however, published data indicate that hectorite catalysts minimize secondary cracking reactions and produce greater gasoline yields.

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