Ammonia assisted functionalization of cuprous oxide within confined spaces of SBA-15 for adsorptive desulfurization

Fazle Subhan*, Sobia Aslam, Zifeng Yan, Liu Zhen, Muhammad Ikram, Rooh Ullah, U. J. Etim, Ayaz Ahmad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Purification of fuels via π-complexation adsorbents is amazing throughout the world in petroleum refineries. Cu(I)-based adsorbents are effective in all due to its low cost and high efficiency. However, the activity of such materials is still dependent on dispersion degree of Cu species. Herein, Cu+-contented SBA-15 mesoporous adsorbents (Cu(I)/SBA-15) were synthesized using as-synthesized SBA-15 with ammonia driving incipient wetness impregnation (IWI) single step reduction strategy. In such strategy, Cu(NO3)2 precursor in the presence of ammonia was directly inserted into the microenvironment of SBA-15. The subsequent single step reduction strategy not only decompose Cu precursor to CuO and remove template P123 but also convert large number of CuO species into Cu(I), highly needed for π-complexation in adsorptive desulfurization. Our strategy is efficient for Cu dispersion than reported traditional approaches. The physicochemical characteristics of materials have been extensively studied by means of BET, XRD, SEM, TEM, TPR, XPS, TG-DTG and FT-IR techniques, and the proposed strategy promoted the Cu dispersion with high yield (56%) of Cu(I) without any support structure loss. The synthesized material with an optimal Cu content of 20 wt% are highly active for desulfurization and captured 13 mg/g thiophene at saturation. The experimental adsorption data fitted Langmuir isotherm model well. Furthermore, the activity of sorbent up to some extent was well recovered by simple regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-565
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - 1 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption isotherms
  • Adsorptive desulfurization
  • As-prepared SBA-15
  • CuO
  • Thiophene


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