ABSTRACT Porous silica was synthesized via the sol-gel process using clay obtained locally from Ijero-Ekiti in Ekiti State, Nigeria and compared with silica synthesized under similar conditions from sodium metasilicate (Na2SiO3) obtained comer- cially. The clay was initially refluxed with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) for 2 hours to extract SiO2 to form Na2SiO3, which was subsequently hydrolyzed to form a gel. The gel obtained was washed with deionized water to get rid of im-purities, dried and calcined at 800°C for 3 hours. The obtained silica powders were characterized using atomic absorp-tion spectrophotometer, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Results showed that the vibrational modes and diffraction patterns of the silica derived from com-mercial Na2SiO3 and that prepared from clay were similar containing pure amorphous SiO2. The morphology of the commercially obtained silica showed better arrangement of particles and exhibited slightly lesser porosity (62.4%) compared to that derived from clay which had a porosity of 65.5%. The result indicates that clay has a potential for use as an environmentally safe and economic starting material for preparing porous silica instead of high quality precursors.
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