Sulfonic Acid Functionalized Magnetite Catalysts
Reference Number: 11-11
Inventors: Keith Hohn and Myles Ikenberry
Current industrial processes consume more than 15 million tons of sulfuric acid annually as a non-recyclable catalyst. Considering this fact, “green” chemistry is seeking to introduce solid acid catalysts such as zeolites, heteropolyacids, and ion-exchanged resins to replace catalysts like sulfuric acid, thus lowering the energy consumption and waste generation of acid catalyzed processes, such as biofuels production. One solid catalyst that has been the topic of significant research is aqueous phase acid functionalized superparamagnetic nanoparticles. Although this platform has shown promise, previous attempts to deliver the technology have been hampered by the fact that the acid-functionalized silica nanoparticles have been shown to undergo extensive deactivation and loss of acid groups when exposed to the hostile reaction conditions in which these catalysts are used.
Considering the limitations of these prior attempts, researchers at Kansas State University have developed a new catalyst consisting of a hetero-acid coordinated to a magnetite nanoparticle surface. The invention provides for a composite material that is chemically and thermally stable, superparamagnetic, and additionally has an outer surface containing catalytically active sulfonic acid sites. This technology differs from the prior art primarily by its ability to expose catalytically active groups (such as sulfonic acid) to a solution and simultaneously prevent ligand dissociation in aqueous environments.
- The material can be withdrawn by exertion of an external magnetic field, thus allowing for product purity levels that were impossible with previous technologies.
- Extraction process is highly scalable and inexpensive, resulting in substantial cost benefit over processes which currently require neutralization or separation processes for their acid and base catalysts.
- The ligand attachments are stable in aqueous mixtures of carbohydrates at temperatures of at least 130°C.
- The basic material structure provides a template for the production of a large variety of functionalized outer surfaces with various types of moieties exposed to solution.
- Could be used in any aqueous acid or base catalyzed reaction of biomass, biofuels, biochemicals, biopolymers, petroleum, synthetic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, or petroleum based polymers.
- Potentially could contribute to the successful applications of magnetic fluids as lubricants, heat-transfer agents, and biomedical materials.
- Provisional patent application filed in September 2011.
Kansas State University Research Foundation seeks to have discussions with companies that are interested in licensing and/or research collaborations.
Interested parties should contact:
Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization (KSU-IC)
2005 Research Park Circle Manhattan, KS 66502
Tel: 785-532-3900 Fax: 785-532-3909