An Alternative and Simple Method for the Preparation of Bare Silica Nanoparticles Using Sugarcane Waste Ash, an Abundant and Despised Residue in the Brazilian Industry

Sugarcane waste ash, a Si-rich waste product, is generated in large quantities and creates a serious disposal problem in the Brazilian ethanol-sugar industry, affecting the environment and public health. Here, a simple method capable of generating bare silica nanoparticles utilizing this residue is demonstrated. Firstly, the crystalline silica present in sugarcane waste ash (SWA) was converted into amorphous by melting a mixture of sodium hydroxide and SWA at 550 ºC for 1 h. The silica nanoparticles (SiO2NPs) were formed by lowing pH. This production process of SiO2NPs from SWA was optimized varying the ash:NaOH mass ratio, increasing the silica extraction up to 96%. The sample’s composition was characterized by total X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, morphology and physical-chemical properties were investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction, specific surface area measurements, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and thermogravimetric analyses (TGA), followed by use as adsorbent for the removal of methylene blue dye. With this process of extraction, nanoparticles smaller than 100 nm were generated, with a surface area of 63 m2 g-1 and a maximum adsorption capacity of 37 mg g-1 for methylene blue. The results indicate a successful process for obtaining an adsorbent from an industrial waste product using a cost effective and rapid synthesis procedure rendering renewable product.