Catalytic reactions provide green, efficient, and selective syntheses of organic compounds when compared to waste-generating stoichiometric methods. However, many catalytic transformations are homogeneous and transition metal based. Metal impurities often remain in the desired compound after isolation and purification. Although selective homogeneous organocatalysts can be used, their activities and stabilities are often low, and their handling too demanding for economically viable industrial applications. The application and design of highly active heterogeneous organic catalysts has broad impacts in fine chemical and active pharmaceutical synthesis, yet to-date very few have made it to industrial practice due to limited reactivity and scope. The MacQuarrie group implements an innovative method of supporting an array of chiral organic catalysts with enhanced homogeneous properties via charge matching between the ionically bound catalyst and the charged supports. The materials are prepared in as inexpensive and green a manner as possible and the supports range from highly ordered silicas to renewable resources such as biochar.
ELECTROSTATICALLY BOUND FUNCTIONALITY
We develop simple routes for installing organic functionality onto ordered nanosilicas and sustainable biochars, taking advantage of the charged surface to permit facile anchoring of homogeneous catalysts
Presently, biochar is often discarded, burned as fuel, or used as a soil amendment or for carbon sequestration, which makes it a low- or no-cost alternative to traditional supports. Biochar is similar to graphite and is composed mainly of aromatic carbon atoms. However, its retained functional groups (carboxylates and alcohols) can facilitate its use as an inexpensive and renewable catalyst or catalyst support.
This project looks at the conversion of significant crab waste into viable, usable biochar that can be used in various end market products including soap production, odor removal or waste water management and reduces the use of local landfill facilities. This project focuses on the generation of biochar from crab waste and include process (pyrolysis, drying, various combinations of forestry/crab waste) and characterization (surface area, functionality, porosity, contaminates) ultimately leading to high value applications. For example we have recently demonstrated the crab char can be used in hydrogenation reactions. See links below for more information.
We have recently started investigating the ability to develop biochar/ploymer beads for use in water purification applications. In collaboration with Dr. Jegatha we have shown that very low loadings of added biochar significantly enhance the beads ability to remove turbidity and hardness.