Fibrous Silica Nanospheres (KCC­1)

This product is ready for material testing and industrial manufacturing

KAUST’s novel fibrous silica nanospheres technology (KCC­1) offers exceptional performance in comparison to other types of silica, making it ideal for use in a wide variety of commercial catalysts and sorbent applications. These advances are expected to revolutionize the field of silica­supported catalysts, enabling never­before­possible applications for silica in catalysis.

KCC­1 has a high surface area due to the tailor­made fibrous and spherical morphology. This has resulted in advanced material properties, such as high mechanical and thermal stability, as well as excellent dispersion in aqueous and nonaqueous media, which further enhance KCC­1′s stability as a catalyst support material.

These intrinsic advanced properties have resulted in performance features that have made this material commercially viable in wide range of applications, such as catalyst support and sorbent applications, coatings, petroleum/petrochemical processes, carbon dioxide (CO2)capture, hydrogen storage, cosmetics, and drug delivery.

Technology Summary

Our researchers used a hydrothermal synthesis (HTS) process to produce KCC­1. The existence of uniform fibrous channels in KCC­1 renders molecular accessibility to particle surface efficient in comparison to other types of silica and catalyst support materials. Furthermore, the process of making KCC­1 has been successfully optimized, and a pilot scale­up production has reached 1 kg of KCC­1 with 100 percent repeatability.

How It Works


An in­house scale­up facility with a 20­liter reactor has been commissioned to render the chemical process more industrially friendly, as well as test various market applications where KCC­1 can be used as a novel silica material. Now KAUST has the capability of producing 1 kg samples for industry study and testing. We also succeeded in cutting down the cost of production by more than 50% by reducing chemicals and accelerating production times.

Why It Is Better

Given the growing need for silica nanospheres, much research has been done to control the shape, structure, and pore size using mesoporous silica. However, the performance, and therefore the applicability, of mesoporous silica has been hindered by the limitation in accessibility to the active sites within the porous structure for many reasons, such as clogging of the pores by the sintering of active metals.

KCC­1 offers a unique alternative shape, other than porous, that has never before been seen in silica materials: a fibrous surface morphology arranged in a three­dimensional structure to form spheres. Unlike traditional pore­based silica, these nanospheres possess a fibrous structure that dramatically increases accessibility to most of the available surface area. This, in turn, increases catalytic activity significantly.

Tests performed on this technology so far have demonstrated that KCC­1 offered better performance than other silica­based systems (e.g. commercially available SBA­15, MCM­41) in various applications related to catalysis and/or sorption. The KCC­1 production process is under continuous development and improvement to ensure industrial compatibility and widen its commercial applications.

IP Protection

KAUST has several patents pending for this technology.

Invention Track Code



  • High surface area: Increased surface area due to the particles’ structure and shape
  • High thermal stability: Up to 800 ¬∞C
  • High mechanical stability: Up to 216 MPa
  • Excellent dispersion


  • Catalysts supports for many industrial processes
  • CO2capture
  • Hydrogen storage
  • Sorbent applications such as in chromatography (column packing)
  • Paints
  • Drug delivery
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