Of all the known pillared layered clays (PILC), Al-PILC is the most studied. In spite of that, its use on a commercial scale is not yet possible due to the large amount of water required for its synthesis. The aim of the present work was to take advantage of the beneficial effects of ultrasound radiation for reducing intercalation time, and to optimize the synthesis parameters in order to find a viable industrial means of preparing Al-PILC.
A comprehensive study of the effect of ultrasonic radiation on the parameters which have a direct effect on the amount of water used in the synthesis was conducted, specifically on the effects of: (1) mmol of Al/g of clay ratio (R) by decreasing the volume of Al solution and keeping the amount of clay constant, (2) the concentration of clay in the initial suspension (or not suspending the clay at all), and (3) the concentration of the Al precursor solution. The use of ultrasonic radiation produced the expected reduction in exchange time which was attributed to a decrease of the clay-particle size. This decrease of particle size gave rise to an improvement in the diffusion of the Al precursor towards the core of the clay grain leading to solids with increased surface areas, basal spacing and X-ray diffraction peak definition. By optimizing the synthesis parameters directly involved in the consumption of water, it was possible to decrease the amount used by >60%.