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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C519736/1
Title: Engineered magnetic fluid materials for homogeneous catalysts
Principal Investigator: Plucinski, Dr P
Other Investigators:
Price, Professor G Frost, Professor CG
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: University of Bath
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 07 February 2005 Ends: 06 November 2006 Value (£): 101,836
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Aim: Homogeneous catalysts have many attractive properties such as high chemo- and regioselectivity and high activities. However, engineering processes involving homogeneous presents difficulties and many efficient systems systems cannot be commercialised. A major problem is associated with separating the products from the catalyst. The aim of this project is to prepare a series catalysts supported on nanosized magnetic particles. Their size means that they will operated in the same manner as homogeneous catalysts but they may be easily recovered in a magnetic field. For this proof of principle project, a limited range of reactions has been selected for selected chemical reactions: C-C bond coupling, hydrogenation, and oxidation.Superparamagnetic nanoparticles (i.e. attracted to a magnetic field, but retaining no residual magnetism after the field is removed) will be synthesized either in aqueous or in organic phase and will be stabilised by cross-linked vesicles and reverse micelles, respectively. Functional catalytic groups as well as ligands will be included in the cross-linkable surfactant and their ability to catalyse selected reactions will be assessed. The project is based on three foundations: (i) magnetic nanoparticles have been demonstrated in areas as diverse as drug delivery or MRI agents, biocatalysis and bioseparation, (ii) soluble polymers containing catalytically active ligands have been used for homogeneous catalysts, and (iii) magnetic core heterogeneous catalysts have been successfully used in chemical industry. As far as we are aware, these three concepts have not previously been combined.The scientific challenge will be to synthesize catalyst nanoparticles in the size of several (5-20) nanometres to allow facile movement of materials in the reacting phase, i.e. to increase the reactivity and to realise macroscopically homogeneous catalysis. Most of the existing magnetic carriers described in the literature have a size of 50 - 100 nm. The hypotheses of the project are (i) that the crosslinking of surfactant vesicle or reverse micelle will produce enough rigidity to stabilise magnetic nanoparticles within surfactant aggregate for effective magnetic separation and (ii) that the immobilization of catalytic function to specific surfactant bond will be not disrupted by crosslinking.The novelty of the proposal is the development of easily separable magnetic fluids as supports for homogeneous catalysts, in contrast to existing magnetic core-based catalysts which suffer the drawbacks of heterogeneous catalysis; additional mass transfer resistance leading to lower selectivities and activities.The successful collaboration between a polymer chemist, an organic chemist and a chemical engineer should result in significant progress towards the development of easily recoverable catalysts for reactions in one or multiphase systems.
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Organisation Website: http://www.bath.ac.uk