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Design of Sustainable Porous Materials Based on 3D-Structured Silica Exoskeletons, Diatomite

3D-structured silica exoskeletons-diatomite was used as reactive inorganic ingredient, with and without metakaolin to produce sustainable multifunctional diatomite-based geopolymeric foams. Suitable amount of Silicon powder and vegetable surfactant were used as foaming agents, while polysilicate solution was used as reactive crosslinker. The resulting porous materials, characterized by hierarchical porosity ranging from macro to nano-scale, were fabricated at 40 °C for 24 h and characterized by means of chemical and morphological investigations, contact angle, thermal and acoustic properties and fire reaction. The presence of diatomite in the produced foams provides an increase of thermal inertia, and the thermal insulation performance firstly due to the intrinsically low thermal conductivity of diatomite and also because silicon and vegetable surfactant are able to promote the formation of a co-continuous mesoporous structure. Furthermore, the created morphological structure provides a good acoustic absorption coefficient in a wide range of frequency. Finally, due to their hydrophilicity/oleophobicity character, diatomite-based geopolymeric foams could, potentially, be proposed as oil/water separation membranes.

This paper highlights application of the C-Therm TCi Thermal Conductivity Analyzer.

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