Nanotech catalyst may green chemical manufacturingFebruary 17th, 2010 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS
Toronto, Feb 17 (IANS) A new nanotech catalyst developed by chemists offers industry an opportunity to reduce the use of expensive and toxic heavy metals.
Although chemists have long been aware of the ecological impact of traditional chemical catalysts and do attempt to reuse their materials, it is generally difficult to separate the catalysing chemicals from the finished product.
Catalysts are substances that modify or speed up chemical reactions, without being changed themselves. The McGill University team’s discovery does away with this chemical process altogether.
McGill University chemist Chao-Jun Li neatly describes the new catalyst as “use a magnet and pull them out!” The technology is known as nanomagnetics and involves nanoparticles of a simple iron magnet.
Nanoparticles are of size between one and 100 nanometres (a strand of hair is about 80,000 nanometres wide). The catalyst itself is chemically benign and can be efficiently recycled, says a McGill release.
In terms of practical applications, their method can already be used to generate the reactions that are required for example in pharmaceutical research, and could in the future be used to achieve reactions necessary for research in other industries and fields.
The discovery was published in Highlights in Chemical Science.
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Tags: catalyst, chao, chemical catalysts, chemical reactions, chemical science, chemicals, chemist, chemists, discovery, ecological impact, finished product, heavy metals, jun li, magnet, mcgill university, pharmaceutical research, practical applications, strand, toronto