Proposal Title : NemeSys - Smart Multiphasic Nanoreactors Based On Tailored Foams for Direct H2O2 Synthesis

Lead Research Organisation: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
Department Name: Chemistry


H2O2 is a key commodity chemical. It is industrially produced by an indirect process involving sequential hydrogenation-oxidation of an anthraquinone precursor dissolved in organic solvents followed by liquid-liquid extraction to recover H2O2, with high energy input and waste/CO2 generation. A sustainable alternative relies on direct H2O2 synthesis from molecular H2 and O2, which could produce H2O2 at the endpoint of use with few downstream operations. Nonetheless, this dream process has not emerged as a technology due to 3 main limitations: (1) low H2O2 selectivity, (2) productivity limitation due to process safety, and (3) slow rate of H2O2 synthesis. This ERC PoC project aims at bringing solution to these limitations. It will implement particle-stabilized foams as Gas-Liquid-Solid (G-L-S) nanoreactors by self-assembling surface-active catalytic particles at the G-L interface, promoting G-L miscibility near the catalytic centers. This will enhance the activity and H2O2 selectivity compared to bulk catalytic systems below the explosion limit. We will optimize particles already developed in the ERC Michelangelo to generate foams in alcohols, and incorporating AuPd nanoparticles as catalytic phase. We will (i) prepare surface-active catalytic particles based on oleophobic organosilicas incorporating AuPd nanoalloys; (ii) generate particle-stabilized foams in alcohols affording high activity and selectivity for direct H2O2 synthesis and particle reuse; (iii) engineer a lab-scale G-L-S reactor prototype using particle-stabilized foams to achieve at least 0.6 vol% H2O2 and a rate of H2O2 synthesis >100 mol.kgcat-1.h-1; and (iv) estimate the unit cost and CO2 footprint of the new reactor prototype, patenting, technology transfer and market analysis with industrial partners. Through innovation on both surface-active catalysts and
process intensification, NemeSys will deliver a radical step change towards a higher sustainability and competitiveness in the process industry.


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