Novel precious metal nanocatalyst made by biofabrication

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences

Abstract

Precious metal catalysts are key to many processes in chemical industry (e.g. hydrogenations, oxidations, syntheses), environment (automotive catalysts, fuel cells) and medicine (metallic nanoparticles). In general different catalysts are used for different processes. Recently the potential benefits of being able to use bimetallic catalysts have been appreciated but these types of catalyst are difficult to make by conventional methods, and may give products of inconsistent quality.As part of an ongoing EPSRC project we evaluated the potential for using bacteria to biomanufacture precious metal catalysts, while a sister BBSRC project is, in parallel, evaluating the potential for sourcing precious metals from wastes: together these projects have demonstrated a 'one stop shop' microbial method to biomanufacturing new, active, catalysts from wastes. The ongoing EPSRC project has shown a new method to make a bimetallic catalyst based on Au and Pd. Bimetallic catalysts are 'next generation': they can achieve high selectivities and reactions that single metal catalysts cannot. Pd/Au bimetallic catalysts are not yet commercially available although the catalyst industry is working hard to achieve this goal. Within a short, internally-funded development study we showed high selectivity by biomanufactured Pd/Au bimetallic in a typical alcohol oxidation; the selectivity was accompanied by a high activity, neither of which were achieved by commercial single metal comparators. This, and the high scalability of biomanufacturing systems, prompted this FoF bid, the purpose of which is to facilitate and enable the transition from benchtop demonstration to commercial prototype. For the latter we will utilise two novel catalyst formulation methods brought by collaborations, namely (a) metallic nanoparticles supported on carbon spheres and (b) a novel immobilisation method yielding highly cohesive bacteria which hold the precoius metal nanoparticles/bimetallics tightly.We will manufacture test quantities of both new materials and evaluate their potential in oxidation reactions of known commercial relevance. We will also test the potential for the new 'Bio-Pd/Au' as a fuel cell (FC) catalyst via extant collaboration with a FC expert. . Using (a) suspended metallised bacterial cells and (b) bionanocatalyst made by the two new attachment methods we will evaluate not only total catalyst activity but catalyst re-usability in repeated reaction cycles, with particular emphasis on durability and lack of attrition, ensuring nanocatalyst retention and complete separation from the product stream without fragmentation. In parallel with the technical tasks business development will proceed with the assistance ot two associated Fellowships dedicated to business development, a company Partner who wishes to initiate a new joint venture, and a current Partner who will take the lead in organising dissemination activity to the market audience via a dissemination workshop. With IP filing imminent, there wil be no barrier to dissemination; indeed, a manuscript is awaiting submission to 'Science' in the immediate future, with several additional high profile disseminations anticipated. These we propose to achieve within the project's lifetime

Planned Impact

The first impact of this work will be the introduction to market of a novel bimetallic Pd/Au catalyst which will fulfill a goal to which the catalyst industry is currently striving. Commercial Pd/Au catalysts are not yet available 'off the shelf' due to difficulty of their manufacture, scalability issues and inconsistencies in product. The high costs of precious metal catalysts (governed by external market factors) bear on the eventual product cost, especially if a homogeneous cataysis is employed (i.e. in the same phase as the reactants) which results in high catalyst losses. Our new fomulation can overcome these problems. In addition to achieving reaction selectivity and a level of activity unsurpassed by commercial formulations (there is as yet no direct comparator), the material can be made scalably using biomanufacturing. By immobilising onto support (using 2 new formulation engineering methods) then, as long as the material is robust/attrition resistant/recyclable, we will have overcome the barriers to market entry (except the intrinsic resistance of the catalyst industry to new entrants). Parallel work has shown the possibility to recover Pd/Au from electronic scrap/road dusts and here we are in Partnership with SMEs and have shown 'waste into new catalyst' in other projects. For success, impact will be achieved by the association with the project team of 2 Business Development Fellows. Recognising that the established industry will probably aim to mimise our potential competition, the impact plan involves a Joint Venture with a company originating from within several major (non-UK) catalyst producers and operating independently from them. Together we expect to impact on the market within the 5 yrs that is normal for a new product. The second impact will be to make more effective catalysts by the use of bimetallics, saving valuable/strategic platinum group metals (PGMs) which the UK must import. Impact will be felt in the automotive catalyst market (consumes 50% of the world's PGMs) and in the emerging fuel cell (FC) market, where dual disbenefits of PGM requirements & premature catalyst poisoning limit FC life. Incorporation of Au-bimetallics would offset PGM usage and also reduce catalyst poisoning by oxidation of CO (trace contaminant in petrochemical-H2). FC lifetime currently limits implementation of the hydrogen economy. The third impact comes in the improved production of key chemicals like benzylalcohol and vinyl acetate monomer, which are currently hard to produce selectively and both of which have large markets (see business case). Hence, this work will benefit 'UK plc' in chemical industry sectors and the environment, by 'green' manufacturing. In addition to giving 'UK plc' the edge in chemical and energy industries, this case will inspire other academics to pursue the transition from bench to market and provide a model case history; we expect (and will aim for) major press coverage. We will bid for a high profile 'Lord Stafford Award' exemplifying the best in University/company collaborations. We will also convey the quality science via targeting publication in the very best journals (Science, Nature Materials), leading a new area of bionamufacturing of metallic catalysts to inspire other scientists. The impact will be felt within our sponsors EPSRC and BBSRC who will show tangible delivery of commercial outcomes for public investment. Finally, there will be a large impact on an upcoming generation of young, commercially aware scientists, e.g a PhD student will be associated with the project, while the 3 RAs will have the direct benefits of interaction with several companies and learn first hand about raising capital investment and other business and IP issues.

Publications

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Zhu J (2016) Selective hydrogenation using palladium bioinorganic catalyst in Applied Catalysis B: Environmental

 
Title Nil 
Description Nil 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Nil 
 
Description Catalysts can be made by bacteria ands these often have higher activity or morte selectivity than commercial catalysts.
Exploitation Route via Innovate UK
via Eu grants
Sectors Chemicals,Energy,Environment

 
Description The ability to use bacteria to make new catalysts from wastes a formed part of underpinning work for a NERC programme on Resource Recovery from Wastes
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Chemicals,Energy,Environment
 
Description Nil
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Citation in systematic reviews
 
Description H2O Ventures Ltd
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation H2O Venture Partners 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description University of Birmingham
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Funding ID N/A: Gateway Fund 
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description University of Birmingham
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Funding ID N/A Medici Fellowship to K.Deplanche; buy-out 
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description University of Birmingham
Amount £23,724 (GBP)
Funding ID N/A University KT funding: secondment (J.A.Bennett) into industry 
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description University of Birmingham
Amount £19,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Title Nil 
Description Nil 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Nil 
 
Title Nil 
Description Nil 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Nil 
 
Title Nil 
Description Nil 
IP Reference  
Protection Protection not required
Year Protection Granted
Licensed No
Impact Nil
 
Title Nil 
Description Nil 
Type Products with applications outside of medicine
Current Stage Of Development Initial development
Year Development Stage Completed 2014
Development Status On hold
Impact Nil 
 
Title Nil 
Description Nil 
Type Of Technology New Material/Compound 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Nil