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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T012153/1
Title: Catch and Release: Recycling of Homogenous Metal Catalysts Using Aromatic Tags and Electroactive Nanocarbon Foams
Principal Investigator: Menzel, Dr R
Other Investigators:
McGowan, Professor P Blacker, Professor AJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
William Blythe Ltd
Department: Sch of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2020 Ends: 31 March 2023 Value (£): 496,915
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Reactor Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 Oct 2019 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 8 and 9 October 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Homogeneous precious metal catalysts constitute the most versatile catalysts in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors, enabling manufacture of high-value chemicals at high productivity and lower energy consumptions. However, high costs, limited supply, toxicity and strict regulations create an essential need to recover and re-use precious metal catalysts. This interdisciplinary project will develop a generic Catch-and-Release recovery technology for homogeneous precious metal catalysts to overcome the limitations of existing catalyst recovery/scavenging strategies. This technology will be based on the modification of known metal complex catalysts with aromatic 'catch' units and the use of electroactive nanocarbon foams to enable induced catalyst 'release'.

Specifically, three commercially-important model catalysts (Ru, Ir, Pd) will be modified with aromatic tags to enable non-covalent catalyst sorption into nanocarbon foams. The high affinity between graphitic foam surface and the aromatic tags will allow for highly selective catalyst removal from different reaction mixtures ('Catch'). In addition, the use of electrically conducting nanocarbon foams as sorbents will enable to induce/tune the desorption of the recovered catalysts back into solution ('Release') through electric-thermal stimuli. The Catalyst Catch-and Release systems will be tested, characterised and optimised for three important model reaction systems (Ru: transfer-hydrogenation, Ir: hydrogen borrowing reactions, Pd: oxidation of bio-feedstock). Catalyst Catch-and-Release efficiencies as well as underpinning structure-property relationships will be studied in flow, a chemical processing mode of increasing commercial importance. Materials characterisation and performance data across the three catalyst systems will provide a deeper understanding of the Catch-and-Release process and provide detailed specification data for future technology development. Collaboration with the industrial project partner William Blythe Ltd (a UK manufacturer of nanoarbons) will ensure commercial viability of the newly developed Catch-and-Release nanocarbon-foam sorbents.

The project will deliver the following critical outputs: (i) well-characterised Ru-, Ir- and Pd-catalysts tethered to (electrochemically-active) aromatic moieties, (ii) Catch-and-Release catalyst sorbents based on electro-responsive nanocarbon-foams (iii) Catch-and-Release structure-property relationships to enable technology extension to other catalyst systems; (iv) techno-economic performance data to underpin industry engagement. These outputs will have transformative impacts by developing a novel catalyst Catch and Release concept that is applicable across a wide range of reaction systems and offers great control, thereby enabling wider and more sustainable utilisation of sophisticated homogeneous catalysts.
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Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk