Synthesis of Low Density and High Purity Silica Xerogels from South African Sugarcane Leaves without the Usage of a Surfactant

Ncamisile Nondumiso Maseko, Dirk Enke, Samuel Ayodele Iwarere, Oluwatobi Samuel Oluwafemi, Jonathan Pocock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Sugarcane leaves were used to produce high-purity and low-density silica xerogels through a sol–gel method. The biogenic silica produced through a thermochemical method was reacted with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to form sodium silicate and the produced sodium silicate was titrated with 1 M citric acid to form silica gel. The formed silica gel was washed, subjected to a solvent exchange process and later dried at 80 °C to produce low-density and high-purity silica xerogels. The produced xerogels were characterized with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), X-ray diffraction (XRD), nitrogen physisorption, elemental analysis (CHNS), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The produced silica xerogels had an amorphous structure and purity of 99.9 wt%. In addition, the textural properties analysis showed that the xerogel has a BET surface area of 668 m2·g−1, an average pore diameter of 7.5 nm, a pore volume of 1.26 cm3·g−1 and a density of 0.23 g·cm−3.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4626
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • amorphous biogenic silica
  • solvent exchange
  • sol–gel method
  • sugarcane leaves
  • value added material
  • xerogel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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