High surface area cerium oxide has been prepared using a carbon templating method. Impregnation of a highly mesoporous activated carbon (Darco KB-B) with an aqueous solution of cerium nitrate, followed by carbon burn off, afforded ceria with surface area of up to 148 m2/g. According to thermogravimetric studies, ceria formation proceeds via decomposition of cerium nitrate at ca. 410 K; oxidation of the carbon template commences at the same temperature, being facilitated by the release of NO2 from the Ce compound. Use of activated carbon fibers (ACFs) as template was found to provide a simple route to fibrous cerium oxide. The lower surface areas (3 - 59 m2/g) of the resulting ceria fibers reflect the largely microporous nature of the ACFs; evidently the Ce nitrate solution is unable to penetrate their micropores. Consequently, the surface area of the ceria product is found to increase with increasing mesoporosity of the ACF template. Electron microscopy reveals that the ceria fibers are composed of highly crystalline primary particles of 5-10 nm diameter; further, the fibers display a number of interesting morphological features at the macro- and nano-scales.
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