TOMSK, Jan 28 – RIA Tomsk. Scientists of Tomsk State University (TSU) are developing a new technology for silica gel production – they suggest using diatomite instead of the usual quartz sand for production; this will make the finished material stronger and cheaper, the university's website reported on Friday.
It is specified that silica gel, dried silicon oxide gel, is used in various areas: to protect against high humidity of goods, air drying, industrial gases, in the production of plastic windows, medicine packaging, as a filler in the manufacture of tyres and so on. Today silica gel is produced from silica sand using a technology involving many steps and high energy costs.
"Postgraduate students from the Faculty of Chemistry of Tomsk State University Elena Evdokimova and Alexander Zubkov... propose to produce silica gel from cheap natural material – diatomite. The development will require fewer production steps and the material will be stronger and more porous, as well as cheaper. The research was supported within the framework of the UMNIK project", – says the report.
It is specified that diatomite is a sedimentary rock of silicon oxide shells of diatom microorganisms. Russia has the world's largest diatomite reserves, which makes the project attractive for the industry. By becoming a component of silica gel, the material will give it additional unique properties: a hierarchical porous system, increased sorption capacity, strength and other characteristics.
"We will work on the full cycle of silica gel production: from raw materials to a product that is ready for sale. We will conduct experiments, on the basis of which the laboratory regulations will be developed, which will form the basis of the new technology for silica gel production", – the authors of the project are quoted as saying.
According to the press service, most silica gel is imported from abroad, and the existing Russian product is inferior in price and quality. The TSU team will create technology to produce different types of silica gel, in particular lumpy silica gel for hygienic filling for pets and powder silica gel for rubber products and tyres. These two segments of the silica gel market are fully dependent on imports.