Hydrotalcites have many important applications in catalysis, wastewater treatment, gene delivery and polymer stabilization, all depending on preparation history and treatment scenarios. In catalysis and polymer stabilization, thermal decomposition is of great importance. Hydrotalcites form easily with atmospheric carbon dioxide and often interfere with the study of other anion containing systems, particularly if formed at room temperature. The dehydroxylation and decomposition of carbonate occurs simultaneously, making it difficult to distinguish the dehydroxylation mechanisms directly. To date, the majority of work on understanding the decomposition mechanism has utilized hydrotalcite precipitated at room temperature. In this study, evolved gas analysis combined with thermal analysis has been used to show that CO2
contamination is problematic in materials being formed at RT that are poorly crystalline. This has led to some dispute as to the nature of the dehydroxylation mechanism. In this paper, data for the thermal decomposition of the chloride form of hydrotalcite are reported. In addition, carbonate-free hydrotalcites have been synthesized with different charge densities and at different growth temperatures. This combination of parameters has allowed a better understanding of the mechanism of dehydroxylation and the role that isomorphous substitution plays in these mechanisms to be delineated. In addition, the effect of anion type on thermal stability is also reported. A stepwise dehydroxylation model is proposed that is mediated by the level of aluminum substitution.
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