Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Chloroform cleanup: just the beginning for palladium-gold catalysts: Federally funded research pays off with new process for environmental remediation

When chloroform-contaminated water is flowed through a column containing PGClear pellets, the palladium and gold in the pellets spurs a chemical reaction that breaks down chloroform into nontoxic methane and chloride salt.
CREDIT: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
When chloroform-contaminated water is flowed through a column containing PGClear pellets, the palladium and gold in the pellets spurs a chemical reaction that breaks down chloroform into nontoxic methane and chloride salt.

CREDIT: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Abstract:
Researchers from Rice University, DuPont Central Research and Development and Stanford University have announced a full-scale field test of an innovative process that gently but quickly destroys some of the world's most pervasive and problematic pollutants. The technology, called PGClear, originated from basic scientific research at Rice during a 10-year, federally funded initiative to use nanotechnology to clean the environment.

Chloroform cleanup: just the beginning for palladium-gold catalysts: Federally funded research pays off with new process for environmental remediation

Houston, TX | Posted on April 15th, 2013

PGClear uses a combination of palladium and gold metal to break down hazardous compounds like vinyl chloride, trichloroethene (TCE) and chloroform into nontoxic byproducts.

"Chlorinated compounds were widely used as solvents for many decades, and they are common groundwater contaminants the world over," said Rice's Michael Wong, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the lead researcher on the PGClear project. "These compounds are also extremely difficult to treat inexpensively with conventional technology. My lab began its work to solve this problem more than a decade ago."

DuPont researcher John Wilkens said, "The problem-solving for this technology began at the nanoscale. Mike and his team were working with nanoscale catalysts when they developed the technology that would ultimately become PGClear. The scale of the technology was subsequently enlarged to permit use in conventional reaction systems for field implementation."

The first large-scale PGClear unit, which is designed to treat groundwater contaminated with chloroform, is scheduled for installation at a DuPont site in Louisville, Ky., in June. The 6-by-8-foot unit contains valves and pipes that will carry groundwater to a series of tubes that each contain thousands of pellets of palladium-gold (PG) catalyst. The pellets, which are about the size of a grain of rice, spur a chemical reaction that breaks down chloroform into nontoxic methane and chloride salt.

"The palladium-gold catalyst has so far performed well for remediating groundwater samples collected at DuPont," said Brad Nave, director of the DuPont Remediation Project. "While the project is not yet full-scale, our next step will subject the technology to the rigors of real-world field conditions. Rice, Stanford and DuPont have been working on the details of the field pilot for several years, and we're looking forward to a successful test."

Wong began working on the catalytic remediation technology shortly after arriving at Rice in 2001, the same year Rice won a grant from the National Science Foundation for the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN). CBEN, a 10-year, $25 million effort, was the world's first academic research center dedicated to studying the interaction of nanomaterials with living organisms and ecosystems. CBEN was one of the first six U.S. academic research centers funded by the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

"Prior research had shown that palladium was an effective catalyst for breaking down TCE, but palladium is expensive, so it was thought to be impractical," Wong said. "At CBEN, we used nanotechnology to design particles in which every atom of palladium was used to catalyze the reaction. We also found that adding a tiny bit of gold enhanced the reaction."

DuPont contacted Wong about the award-winning research in 2007 and proposed developing a scalable process to use the palladium-gold catalysts to treat other chlorinated pollutants like chloroform and vinyl chloride. With additional support from the World Gold Council in London, researchers from Rice and DuPont worked to refine the catalyst and the process. They also worked with the South African mineral research organization MINTEK, which produced the catalytic pellets for the first PGClear unit. Gold and palladium make up only about 1 percent of material in each of the purple-black pellets.

"This program is important because of its unique three-stage collaboration: Rice's laboratory work, Stanford's pilot-scale reactor technology and DuPont's expertise in industrial operations and field-pilot testing. Without these three aspects coming together, the technology might never have left the laboratory," Wong said.

Stanford's Martin Reinhard, professor of civil and environmental engineering, said, "It is gratifying to take the outstanding lab results one step closer to practical use. Once operational, PGClear will be the first technology of its kind to use gold and palladium."

Chlorinated compounds like TCE, vinyl chloride and chloroform are found at more than 60 percent of the contaminated waste sites on the Superfund National Priorities List. Wong said that by analyzing the monthslong performance of the PGClear unit in Kentucky, the research team aims to make the technology available at Superfund sites and elsewhere.

"This project is a perfect example of how federal research funding pays off when academic researchers partner with industry to tackle difficult problems," said Rice's Vicki Colvin, vice provost for research and former director of CBEN.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to tinyurl.com/AboutRiceU.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Jade Boyd
713-348-6778

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2016 Year End Results December 7th, 2016

Journal Nanotechnology Progress International (JONPI), newest edition out December 7th, 2016

In IEDM 2016 Keynote, Leti CEO Says ‘Hyperconnectivity’, Human-focused Research and the IOT Promise Profound, Positive Changes December 7th, 2016

Videos/Movies

ANU invention to inspire new night-vision specs December 7th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Physicists decipher electronic properties of materials in work that may change transistors December 6th, 2016

Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified: Scientists invent ground-breaking new method that puts quantum computers within reach December 5th, 2016

Discoveries

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

ANU invention to inspire new night-vision specs December 7th, 2016

Tokyo Institute of Technology research: 3D solutions to energy savings in silicon power transistors December 6th, 2016

Announcements

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2016 Year End Results December 7th, 2016

Journal Nanotechnology Progress International (JONPI), newest edition out December 7th, 2016

Environment

Semiconductor-free microelectronics are now possible, thanks to metamaterials November 9th, 2016

First time physicists observed and quantified tiny nanoparticle crossing lipid membrane November 7th, 2016

Nanosensors on the alert for terrorist threats: Scientists interested in the prospects of gas sensors based on binary metal oxide nanocomposites November 5th, 2016

Marsden minds: Amazing projects revealed November 3rd, 2016

Research partnerships

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator December 1st, 2016

Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics November 28th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project