Researchers from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) created a new catalyst for chemical bonding between carbon atoms in an eco-friendly process.
The production of valuable vitamins, various pharmaceuticals, flavors and pesticides results in large amount of chemical waste that is often drained in natural water bodies. These chemical residues pose serious threat to the ecological balance of the nature. During pharmaceutical and chemical production the amount of finished product is just a fraction of the amount of waste generated in the process. The catalysts used in these chemical reactions that is mostly in dissolved form is one of the major reasons of such waste as most of the dissolved catalysts require a huge amount of effort get separated from its solvent.
Javier Pérez-Ramírez, Professor of Catalysis Engineering at ETH developed a solid catalyst that could eliminate the use of dissolved catalysts. The new catalyst is molecular lattice of carbon and nitrogen atoms with palladium atoms inserted in the cavities of atomic dimensions. The catalysis reaction using these tiny particles of palladium-carbon-nitrogen material was very effective and generated less waste. Earlier attempts of the researchers in absence of palladium resulted in unstable reactions. However, the new palladium catalyst is much more stable due to its inability to dissolve in the reaction liquid and withstands the reaction for a longer period of time. Its durability is cost effective and decreases the amount of waste. According to Javier Pérez-Ramírez, the method is not limited to just palladium and can be tested on other catalyst. The carbon nitrate molecules could populate the lattice with atoms of other metals and generate a new class of catalysts that are eco- friendly to use. The study was published in the journal Nature Chemistry on June 25, 2018.