Researchers have discovered that gold nanoparticles supported on a zirconium oxide surface can recycle waste materials such as biomass and polyester into valuable chemicals for various applications. The approach is a greener and less demanding way of upcycling waste, leveraging the collaboration between gold nanoparticles and the amphoteric nature of the zirconium oxide support.
Polyester and biomass can be recycled by a supported gold nanoparticle catalyst.
Researchers at Tokyo Metropolitan University have discovered that gold nanoparticles supported on a zirconium oxide surface help recycle waste materials like biomass and polyester, which are valuable chemicals used in a wide array of industries. The result is a less demanding process for upcycling waste.
Recycling is a major component of humanity's approach to managing plastic waste worldwide. This includes most anything from recycling to developing completely new compounds and products that are more valuable than the materials used to create them.
In the presence of a hybrid catalyst containing gold nanoparticles mounted on a zirconium oxide substrate, ethers and esters are converted to silane groups. Credit: Tokyo Metropolitan University
Associate Professor Hiroki Miura leads a team of researchers at Tokyo Metropolitan University to convert plastic and biomass to organosilanes, high-performance organic compounds that have a silicon atom attached to form a carbon-silicon bond. Organosilanes are valuable materials in high-performance coatings and intermediates in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, as well as harshly acidic or basic conditions.
Under moderate heating in solution, the team discovered that the gold nanoparticles and the amphoteric (both basic and acidic) nature of the support were responsible for the successful, high-yield conversion of the raw material.
The team hopes that this new approach to organosilane manufacturing will help us live in a carbon-neutral future, where plastics do not enter the environment, but become more useful goods in society.
Hiroki Miura*, Masafumi Doi, Yosuke Masaki, Hidenori Nishio, and Tetsuya Shishido, "Diverse Alkyl–Silyl Cross-Coupling via Homolysis of Unactivated C(sp3)–O Bonds" DOI: 10.1021/jacs.2c12311
MEXT, Japan, provided financial assistance for this research. Grant Number JPMXP0112101003 and JST FOREST Program (Grant Number JPMJFR203V) Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (Grant Number 21H01719)