The exchange reaction of Na-bentonite with zirconium pillars gives products which suffer from a loss of crystallinity, with basal spacing about 18 Å and surface area of 200 m2 g–1. Aluminium introduced in different amounts in the zirconium intercalated solution leads to an improvement in the stability and crystallinity of zirconia-pillared clays (Zr-PILCs) and creates pillared clays with new properties. Adding a small amount of Al (10 molar %) leads to an increase of d001 from 18 Å to 20.5 Å and an increase of the percentage of introduced zirconium from 16.71 to 21, expressed as ZrO2 wt.%, accompanied by an increase of the Brönsted and Lewis acidic sites. The acetalization of acetone with ethylene glycol was studied in order to compare the activity of PILCs. The results show that the yield of the aforementioned reaction depends strongly of the composition and acidity of the catalyst.

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