The characterization, pillaring ability and some catalytic properties of a saponite from the Vicalvaro deposit of Tolsa, located in Madrid have been studied. This mineral is associated with sepiolite in the same lacustrine environment. The raw saponite presents, as special characteristics, high specific surface area (>200 m 2 /g) and a high percentage of tetrahedral Al (90% of the total Al in the sample). Natural saponite gives rise to high conversions when used as a catalyst in the reaction of alkylation of benzene with 1-dodecene. Increased catalytic performances are obtained over the alumina-pillared saponite derivatives. These materials have also been tested in the cracking of gas-oil (microactivity test), giving good conversions and high selectivity towards the gasoline fraction, especially the pillared forms.

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