Functional bionanomaterials and novel processing for targeted catalytic applications

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

Abstract

Commercial catalysts are often based on metallic nanoparticles which have unusual and highly reactive properties due to their high proportion of surface atoms as compared to buried ones. Catalytic reactions occur at or just below surfaces and are helped by the crystal surface having defect sites and kinks. The exact architecture of the kinks can help in molecular recognition between the catalyst and its substrate, and help to make a particular form of the product molecule (called an enantiomer) over its mirror image 'twin'. Industry needs enantiomeric selectivity, and also better ways to make C-C bonds; both would become possible using a new type of nanoparticle based on bacteria. It is difficult to make nanoparticles chemically as they want to aggregate. When this happens the special properties are lost. Usually 'helper' chemicals ('passivant ligands') are needed. Bacteria can overcome this need. They can biomanufacture nanoparticles using enzymes and also support the nanoparticles by providing their own passivants. The catalytic bionanoparticles can be employed as catalysts by using the metallised bacteria as small (~2 microns) bodies in suspension (they can be recovered using a magnet), or by growing them first as a biofilm on (e.g) beads or monoliths and then metallising to form a catalytic nano-coating. Nothing is known yet about the surface structures of the bionanocrystals but they are excellent catalysts. Using novel processing by our industrial partner, we hope to make a completely new class of materials(superbionanocatalysts). We will test these in 4 important reactions where there are strong industrial needs, e.g. (a) enantiomeric selections and (b) a reaction which normally require high temperature and pressures. (a) Usually uses precious metal catalysts and (b) uses a catalyst based on iron; in the nanoworld these can often be used interchangeably (or together) because the same atomic-scale processes are involved. Effects of this are seen in magnetic (as well as catalytic) properties (a very useful diagnostic probe), while another facet is unravelled via an electrochemical 'dialogue' between the nanocrystal and the experimenter. These become even more interesting when the bacteria make 'bimetallics' (combining 2 metals); these often have greatly enhanced properties. We will look at bio-bimetallics for catalysis and also as fuel cell catalysts to make clean energy. Reactions involving Fe catalysts are special. They depend on the exact type of Fe used (the mineral phase); bacteria can make specific mineral phases to order. The catalytic reaction uses an activated form of hydrogen which normally only happens at high temperatures; small particles of ferric oxide are partially reduced by the active H to give some Fe metal (the catalyst; detected magnetically). Commercially, H is made from 'cracking' natural gas but this H contains traces of catalyst poisons. Biologically-made H is poison-free and the use of Bio-H will also help to extend catalyst life. We will make new, robust, superior, catalytic materials but, importantly, we will also relate the new crystal and nano structures to improved functions, applying a full range of solid state analytical methods to complement the magnetic and electrochemical ones. By understanding pivotal molecular processes in the nanoworld we can then design better catalysts for other commercial applications too.

Publications


10 25 50
 
Title Nil 
Description Nil 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Nil 
 
Description Bacteria can make nano metallic catalysts. These can have greater activity thanm classically prepared catalysts and can even be made using metallic waste sources
Exploitation Route via Innpvate UK
via EU funding
Sectors Chemicals,Energy,Environment
 
Description Nil
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Citation in systematic reviews
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £159,200 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H029567/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start  
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £528,865 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I007806/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start  
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £159,200 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H029567/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start  
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £4,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start  
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £528,865 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I007806/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start  
 
Description London Technology Network
Amount £17,000 (GBP)
Organisation London Technology Network 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start  
 
Description Resources Recovery from Wastes
Amount £803,112 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/L012537/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2014 
End 05/2017
 
Description Responsive mode
Amount £634,636 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/J008303/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 01/2012 
End 06/2015
 
Description University of Birmingham
Amount £23,724 (GBP)
Funding ID Knowledge transfer secondment 
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start  
 
Description University of Birmingham
Amount £19,800 (GBP)
Funding ID Path for delivery of impact 
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start  
 
Description University of Birmingham
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Funding ID gateway Fund 
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
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 
 
Description ASE conference Jan 2014. Presentation 'Biology in the real world' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

Some of audience reported a better understanding and appreciation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Association of Science Educators Conference Jan 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact very interactive live demonstrations with working models sparked much interest among school teachers etc

Several Schools asked if we could take the exhibit round to them but this was not possible due to manpower limitations and the administration involved
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description BBC World Service Jan 2014 appearance on The Forum' weekly programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Result is accessing a global audience

Public profile of our work is enhanced
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014