Mesoporous molecular sieves like silica of the MCM-41 type exhibit well-ordered structure with highly controlled cylindrical channels and very narrow pore size distributions. With large specific areas, controllable pore size and homogenous structure, the material has potential applications in various fields. In addition, mesoporous materials of the MCM-41 type are superb candidates in mitigating the urban thermal pollution through the cycle of water vapor adsorption-condensation-evaporation-desorption due to their hydrophilicity and capillary condensation effects in their nanopores. Also, there are only a few studies where semiconductor nanoparticles incorporated in the mesoporous solid MCM-41.
In this study, silica source from a hydrothermally treated low cost mineral was used to prepare hydrophilic mesoporous material by the sol-gel technique and test for water vapor adsorption and pollutants photodegradation. The prepared material as well as a commercial MCM-41 were used as hosts for the formation of ZnO-MCM-41 composite. The as-synthesized composite was characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images with energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) coupled with elemental mapping scans, (UV-VIS-NIR) absorption spectroscopy, nitrogen adsorption desorption (BET)and water vapor adsorption isotherms. The photocatalytic activity for the degradation of methyl orange (MO). The high efficient removal of MB by the hydrophilic composites combined with their alternative preparation from low-cost raw silica expands their application prospects for combined energy and environmental applications.