J. Biomedical Science and Engineering, 2010, 3, 213-216 JBiSE
doi:10.4236/jbise.2010.32028 Published Online February 2010 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/jbise/).
Published Online February 2010 in SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/jbise
Mg/Al complex oxides-A new type of solid basic catalyst for
Heng Miao1, Shi-Chao Xu2*, Hai-Nan Wang1, Wen-Xia Qin1, Lin Lin Zhang1, Ji-Mei Zhang1,
Juan Yang1, Zhao Dai1, Guo Zheng1, En-Qi Tang1
1School of Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Key Laboratory of Hollow Fiber Membrane Materials and Membrane Proc-
esses (Ministry of Education), Tianjin Polytechnic University, Tianjin, China;
2Key Laboratory of Hollow Fiber Membrane Materials and Membrane Processes (Ministry of Education), and Research Institute
Biologic and Spinning Materials, Tianjin Polytechnic University, Tianjin, China.
Email: *Justinxu777@gmail.com
Received 30 November 2008; revised 21 December 2009; accepted 22 December 2009.
Hydrotalcites known as anionic clays are found in
nature. Hydrotalcites, hydrotalcite-like compounds,
and calcined hydrotalcites (as mixed or complex ox-
ides) as highly active, selective catalysts play an im-
portant role in many base/catalyzed reactions. Mg/Al
hydrotalcite (MAH) as precursor was used to prepare
Mg/Al metal complex oxides (MAO), used as epoxi-
dation catalysts in the current research. In this paper,
some primary physical and catalytic properties of
MAH and MAO were investigated. The results indi-
cated that the qualified MAH (Mg/Al mol ratio of 3)
can be achieved when the suspension was crystallized
under 80°C for 16h, and after being filtered, dried at
100 °C for 5h in a oven. MAO was prepared by cal-
cining MAH for 4h in a muffle furnace, and calcina-
tion temperature was determined to be 500 °C by a
differential scanning calorimeter (DSC). Crystal
structure and parameters of MAH and MAO were
characterized by X/ray diffraction (XRD), good
crystal structure was observed and typical peaks of
MAH were detected when 2θ was at 11.5 (003), 23.0
(006), 35.0 (009), and 61.0 (110), respectively. The
morphology of calcined precursor, i.e. MAO, was
investigated with scanning electron microscopy
(SEM); the finer lamellar structure and smaller av-
erage size of 3μm was observed. Molding research
was performed and confirmed by SEM, the results
indicated that the surface bulge and cavity with size
of several micrometers were increased, which simul-
taneously suggested the increasing of specific surface
area. The catalytic activity of molding MAO was fi-
nally examined by using octanol as starting reagent
and ethylene oxide as reactant, and narrower mo-
lecular distribution was observed comparing with the
traditional catalyst-KOH.
Keywords: Mg/Al Hydrotalcites; Mg/Al Metal Complex
Oxides; Molding, Epoxidation
Recently Widely used in the varies fields, narrow distri-
bution polyether shows advantages [1,2,3] consisting of
low pour point, less pollution, and good compatibility. It
has a relatively deep theoretical research and catalytic
properties study at the laboratory stage at home and
abroad in recent years. Currently, the study on hydrotal-
cites, as a kind of catalyst for synthesizing narrow dis-
tribution polyether, mainly deals with two aspects: one is
the pure theoretical study, such as the characterization of
hydrotalcites and surface property, etc; the other is water
gas shift, nitrobenzene reduction, methane oxidation,
and so on. However there is less report about the cata-
lytic activity for ring-opening ethylene oxide [4,5] form-
ing polyether. Although I. Hama [6,7,8] has made an
initial attempt in this aspect, the effect of narrow distri-
bution was not ideal and it had a certain distance applied
in industrialization.
With its fast reaction rate and narrow molecular
weight distribution, Mg/Al metal complex oxides
(MAO), as one kind of narrow distribution catalyst, ob-
tained extremely potential development. Based on the
previous research, the preparation conditions of MAO
which showed greater maneuverability and repeatability,
is further improved in this paper. The precursor of
Mg/Al hydrotalcites (MAH) was synthesized by the pre-
cipitation method, and the MAO power was formed after
HT being calcined at high temperature, showing high
catalytic activity and selectivity. Furthermore, drawing
lessons from the technology [9] of preparing the porous
ceramic materials, the molding MAO presenting great
activity and selectivity was obtained through studying
the molding and granulating of HT. The catalyst sepa-
rated easily from the product can be used repeatedly, so
H. Miao et al. / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 213-216
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
it can reduce production cost and improves the produc-
tion of polyether quality.
The precursor [10] hydrotalcite (HT) was synthesized by
co-deposition method described as follows.
A homogeneous solution was formed after mixing the
solution of magnesium and aluminium nitrates (solution
A) (keeping the Mg:Al molar ratio to a value of 3:1, note:
According to similar procedures reported previously, this
proportion can get a better ethoxylation performance of
the MAO catalyst [6]). The second solution (solution B)
was obtained by adding sodium carbonate to sodium
hydroxide. Then under intensely stirring, solution A and
B was dipped into distilled water in parallel flow way
and pH was adjusted to 9.0, controlling the drip speed at
a certain amount. A precipitate was formed, and the sus-
pension was crystallized at 80ºC, filtered and dried at
100ºC for 5h. Finally the resulting paste was transferred
into a 30 ml crucible which was introduced into a muffle
furnace and was calcined for 4h at 500 ºC.
The calcination temperature of Mg-Al hydrotalcite
was determined by differential scanning calorimeter
(DSC-7, American PE company) at the heating rate of 20
/min under nitrogen protection. The structure of MAH
and MAO were studied by the D/max-IIA powder X/ray
diffractometer (RIGAKU, JAPAN), with mono-chroma-
tized Cu K radiation (= 0.154 nm) at 40Kv and 100mA.
The spectra were collected on an angle 2θ domain rang-
ing from 4 to 65º with a step of 0.06 and an acquisition
time of 2 s on each step. Scanning electron micrographs
(SEM) were obtained over on the FEI Q200 SEM under
the 20KV. Thin layer chromatography (TLC) was used
to analyze the qualitative and quantitative of MAO.
Camag III TLC scanner was selected with the steam as
the coloration and the detective wavelength at 430nm,
baked 5min at 110.
The endothermic and exothermic process of MAH which
determines the calcination temperature of MAH was
studied by DSC shown in Figure 1 There was an endo-
thermic peak between 200~270, indicating that it lost
the water within the structure of MAH which was the
first stage weightlessness. The other peak which was the
second stage weightlessness was between 370~470
and the structure of MAH was destroyed at this stage,
CO32-at layer space and OH- on the layer were resolved
CO2 and H2O. To get the stable structure of catalyst and
better alkalescence catalyst effect, 500 was selected
as calcination temperature.
XRD patterns of the MAH and MAO samples were
shown in Figure 2 It revealed that there were four dif-
fraction maximums at 2θ=11.5°, 23.0°, 35.0°, 61.0° in
Figure 2(A), indicating that crystalline structure of MA-
H is regular. The pattern of MAO prepared by calcining
MAH at 500 was recorded in Figure 2(B), showing
that the four diffraction maximums were weaken or dis-
appeared obviously with the calcination temperature
Figure 1. DSC analysis of MAH.
Figure 2. XRD patterns of MAH (A) and MAO (B). (Room
temperature, 40kv, copper target, 10°/min).
H. Miao et al. / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 213-216
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
Figure 3. SEM image of MAH (A) and MAO (B).
Figure 4. SEM image of molding MAO.
increasing. It indicated that the characteristic structure of
HT was destroyed.
The structure of MAH and MAO were characterized
[11,12] by SEM, as shown in Figure 3. It presented that
the form of MAH (Figure 3(A)) about 30μm in diameter
was not regular. From Figure 3(B), it can be clearly ob-
served that the shape of MAO which was about 3μm in
diameter, smaller than the MAH was oval. From the re-
sult of SEM images, it can be confirmed that the particle
size was decreased significantly after calcination.
The structure of molding MAO was also detected by
SEM which was shown in Figure 4. There were higher
pore-forming rate of molding MAO whose internal ar-
rangement was regular.
The qualitative and quantitative of MAO was ana-
lyzed by thin layer chromatography. The orbit of mold-
ing MAO catalyzed products (d) had a series of peaks
compared with other three orbits, shown in Figure 5. It
presented that molding MAO had PEG, standard samples
but did not have octanol, indicating that MAH had re-
acted completely, and the products didn’t contain the
unreacted raw material. It showed that the molding
MAO possessed the better catalysis selectivity compared
with MAO.
We systematically investigated the optimum synthesis
conditions of MAH and MAO, and the results of SEM
and TLC confirm the formation of molding MAO. Con-
clusions were shown as follows:
MAH can be successfully synthesized by the code-
position method when the mole ratio of the raw materials
was Mg/Al=3, NaOH/(Mg+Al)=2.5, NaOH/Na2CO3=4.
The crystallizing time was 20h and the titration speed
was less than 20ml/l. The process showed good stability
and reproducibility. MAO was obtained after calcining
MAH which presented best ethoxylation catalytic activ-
ity and selectivity.
Figure 5. Thin layer scanning of molding MAO cata-
lyzed product (a, PEG; b, control; c, octanol; d, molding
MAO catalyzed product).
H. Miao et al. / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 213-216
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
The size of MAH and MAO calculated from SEM
data was about 30 and 3μm respectively, indicating that
the particle size was decreased significantly after calcin-
ing. The structure of molding MAO was also confirmed
by the results of SEM and TLC. There were higher
pore-forming rate of molding MAO whose internal ar-
rangement was regular.
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