Silica aerogel microspheres based on alkali silica sol were synthesized using the emulsion method. The experimental results revealed that the silica aerogel microspheres (4–20 µm in diameter) were mesoporous solids with an average pore diameter ranging from 6 to 35 nm. The tapping densities and specific surface areas of the aerogel microspheres are in the range of 0.112–0.287 g/cm3
and 207.5–660.6 m2
/g, respectively. The diameter of the silica aerogel microspheres could be tailored by varying the processing conditions including agitation rate, water/oil ratio, mass ratio of Span 80: Tween 80, and emulsifier concentration. The effects of these parameters on the morphology and textural properties of the synthesized silica aerogel microspheres were systematically investigated. Such silica aerogel microspheres can be used to prepare large-scale silica aerogels at an ambient pressure for applications in separation and high efficiency catalysis, which requires features of high porosity and easy fill and recovery.
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