Research Project Full Title: Novel metallic NANOparticles on NANOstructured supports for oxyanion CATalytic REDuction in water – NanoCatRed
Principal Investigator(s): Charles Werth (CWE), Simon Humphrey (Chemistry)
Sponsor(s): NanoCatRed is a multidisciplinary and collaborative project among Adventech, Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP), Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory
(INL), and the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin).
Conventional water treatment technologies are inefficient in the removal of these pollutants, and other advanced technologies (e.g., ionic exchange, reverse osmosis, electrodialysis) are effective but yield highly concentrated secondary waste streams. Our strategy involves the synthesis of novel highly active metallic nanoparticles (MNPs) with the preparation of nanostructured supports that enhance the catalytic activity of the metallic phases. The synthesis of the MNPs will take advantage of recent advances in fabrication to improve activity and reduce costs; we will control the availability of the most desirable crystalline facets for reaction, and we will create highly active alloys with non- and semi-precious metals substituted for precious metals (traditionally used in hydrogenation). We will also fine tune metal alloy chemistry to control reactant adsorption and as a result the reaction end products. The preparation of the nanostructured supports will rely on recent developments in methods to tune the textural properties and surface chemistry of carbon nanomaterials and metal oxides to improve performance of the supported active metal phases. A key feature we will target is nanostructured support redox activity in order to promote atomic hydrogen transfer between active metal sites. All synthesized catalysts will be characterized for reduction activity of oxyanions, end-product selectivity, elemental composition, surface area, metal oxidation states, MNP size, shape, and structure, and electronic properties. Characterization methods will include the most advanced state-of-art techniques available. The best performing catalysts will be selected for testing in a lab-scale pilot unit, using real waters sourced within the NanoCatRed’s network and Adventech’s customer portfolio. The pilot unit testing will evaluate the capability of the catalysts to achieve contamination levels below those in relevant legislation or recommended by the authorities when used in practical application conditions. Moreover, long-term operation of the unit will be used to assess the stability of the catalysts over long reaction times (both in their activity and the release of nanomaterials into the resulting waters) to ensure their potential for practical application. The expertise and facilities available to NanoCatRed will allow for a systematic study of catalysts prepared with precise control of their properties, creating new possibilities in rational catalyst design and integration into transformative treatment technologies.