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Green Nanosilicas for Monoaromatic Hydrocarbons Removal from Air


We demonstrate a novel application of green nanosilicas (GN), prepared via an environmentally friendly route, in removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Herein, we aim to establish GN as viable alternatives to traditional mesoporous silicas for the removal of monoaromatic hydrocarbons (MAHC). The results show that the GN have high extraction efficiencies comparable to those previously reported for mesoporous silicas. It was demonstrated that bespoke GN can be syntheised readily with the ability to tailor their physical properties and MAHC adsorption. In order to understand the MAHC adsorption by GN, their porosity, morphology and pore structure were characterised. It was observed that the combination of broad pore size distribution and, in particular, the presence of meso- and micro-porosity in GN contributed to high MAHC extraction efficiencies and selectivity. Although from a commercial viewpoint, further optimisation of GN is desirable in order to replace traditional sorbents, this work clearly highlights a new family of “green” sorbents, which can be prepared with a substantial reduction in secondary pollution with potential applications in selective gas separation.

Graphical Abstract

New green nanoparticles (GN) have been developed as VOC adsorbents; GN preparation is rapid and under neutral pH and room temperature conditions, leading to a substantial reduction in secondary pollution. Their successful performance is related to their unique physical properties, which can be easily tailored.

Data Availability

Electronic supplementary material contains additional porosity and microscopy data.


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We thank Al Marqab University (Libya), a ‘Bridging the Gap’ Award from the University of Strathclyde (for A. M. E.-A.) and EPSRC Fellowship (EP/R025983/1) for supporting this work.


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Author information




Abdunaser M. Ewlad-Ahmed designed and performed the experiments, analysed the results and prepared a write-up.

Michael Morris and Justin Holmes performed the electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction.

David J. Belton performed the gas adsorption experiments and data analysis, and wrote relevant sections.

Siddharth V. Patwardhan and Lorraine T. Gibson designed and supervised the entire research, coordinated with authors, analysed the results, prepared figures and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Siddharth V. Patwardhan or Lorraine T. Gibson.

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Ewlad-Ahmed, A.M., Morris, M., Holmes, J. et al. Green Nanosilicas for Monoaromatic Hydrocarbons Removal from Air. Silicon (2021).

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  • VOC
  • Biosilica
  • Microporosity
  • Adsorbent
  • Mesosilica
  • Air pollution