Thermogravimetry was applied in order to investigate the catalytic degradation of heavy oil (15.4oAPI) over silica-based MCM-41 mesoporous molecular sieve. This material was synthesised by the hydrothermal method, using cetyltrimethylammonium bromide as organic template. The physicochemical characterization by nitrogen adsorption, X-ray diffraction, and thermogravimetry, showed that the obtained material presents well-defined structure, with a uniform hexagonal arrangement. The thermal and catalytic degradation of heavy oil was performed by thermogravimetric measurements, in the temperature range from 30 to 900 °C, at heating rates of 5, 10, and 20 °C min−1. By using the model-free kinetics, proposed by Vyazovkin, it was determined that the activation energy to degrade the heavy oil was ca. 128 kJ mol−1, and for degradation of oil in presence of MCM-41, this value decreased to 69 kJ mol−1, indicating the performance of the mesoporores catalyst for the degradation process.
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