Novel man-made catalyst could streamline drug discovery process
Researchers at the University of Illinois successfully created a man-made catalyst that mimics an enzyme. Unlike most enzymes, which act on a single target, the new catalyst can alter the chemical profiles of numerous types of small molecules. According to the researchers, the new catalyst will greatly speed the process of drug discovery. This research has been reported in the Journal of the American Chemistry Society. “The new catalyst can oxidize specific C-H bonds on many different targets. This will greatly streamline the process of modifying known molecules in new ways, a key part of drug discovery,” said University of Illinois chemistry professor M. Christina White, who conducted the study with graduate student Paul Gormisky.
“The main cost of drugs isn’t making the drug, it’s actually discovering the drug, in part because there aren’t good ways to diversify molecules,” she said. “So if you have one molecule of interest that you’d like to modify, you often have to resynthesize the whole thing. It’s not efficient.” The new catalyst (called iron CF3-PDP) and a previous one from White’s lab (called iron PDP) have been designed to oxidize specific types of C-H bonds. Iron PDP goes after the most electron-rich C-H bond on a molecule, while the new catalyst targets the most electronrich C-H bond that also is the least encumbered by nearby atoms. The specificity of the new catalysts allows the researchers to use computational methods and modeling to predict which bonds the catalysts will alter. “The other breakthrough here is that this model could be very generally applicable not just to our catalysts, but this whole genre of catalysts that do C-H oxidations,” White said. However, the new catalyst can only oxidize certain bonds on linear or cyclic molecules, and it doesn’t work on aromatic rings.“But with the two new catalysts you can quickly and efficiently oxidize up to two different sites on one molecule,” White said. White and her colleagues hope to create catalysts that could oxidize potentially any C-H bond on any molecule.
Atlas Copco unveils energy efficient, plug-and-run centrifugal compressors
Delivered as a plug-and-run package, the new Atlas Copco’s ZH 355+ - 900+ oilfree centrifugal compressor range employs advanced aerodynamics to reduce energy consumption in the core. Coupled with this, all the components of the package are designed based on Computational Flow Dynamic (CFD) analysis to drastically reduce pressure drops in the package. The result is a education of specific energy up to 7% at full load compared to the previous model. Inlet guide vanes (IGVs), which are part of Atlas Copco’s standard scope of supply, further reduce energy cost by 9% at part loads as compared to a throttle valve control.
As energy consumption constitutes about 80% of the life cycle cost of a compressor, users will benefit from day one, reducing the overall total cost of ownership. Also, a fail-safe and unique sealing system prevents the possibility of contamination of the air with oil, without the need of any external buffer air. Oil fumes from the gear box are captured by a motorized demister, thus eliminating the risk of ingestion of oil fumes along with the intake air. This safeguards the end product of the customers against oil contamination.
US researchers develop high capacity molten air batteries
Chemistry professor Stuart Licht’s team at George Washington University developed a new class of rechargeable molten battery which they say has the highest intrinsic energy capacity of any battery yet. The iron-based batteries have an energy capacity of around 10,000 Wh/l, carbon-based batteries have a capacity of 19,000 Wh/l and VB2 batteries have a capacity of 27,000 Wh/l. A standard lithium ion battery has a capacity of 600 Wh/l. The high energy capacity makes the battery suitable for a variety of uses, including increasing the range of electric vehicles and for energy storage for the electric grid, to help balance out the intermittent power supplied by renewable technologies.
Being molten, the batteries work at very high temperatures of 700-800oC. The researchers tested three molten salts containing iron, carbon and vanadium boride (VB2) to store energy. The atteries use a nickel electrode which uses oxygen from the air to facilitate the battery’s discharge. Iron is oxidised to Fe (III), releasing electrons. When the battery is charged, Fe (III) is reduced back o iron. In the carbon-based battery, carbon is oxidised to carbonate ions, while VB2 becomes V2O5 and B2O3. The researchers have already found that the temperature can be lowered if the composition of the electrolyte is changed.
Working in collaboration with scientists from the Deutsches Textilforschungszentrum in Krefeld and Sungkyunkwan University in Suwon, Korea, researchers at the Max- Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung developed a process for immobilizing different organic catalysts on textiles with the help of ultraviolet light. The fabric then acts as a support for the substances in a chemical reaction. For their tests, the Mühlheim-based researchers used three organic catalysts: a base (dimethylaminopyridine, DMAP), a sulfonic acid and a catalyst which functions as both an acid and a base. To attach the catalysts to the nylon fibres, the chemists irradiated the textile to which a catalyst was applied with UV light for five minutes. A comparable process did not exist up to now. All three catalysts converted around 90% of the source materials to the desired products. The catalyst which is used in the pharmaceutical industry and only generates one out of two mirror-image molecules, achieved a success rate of over 95 % without showing any major signs of wear and tear.
Compared with other ways of immobilizing catalysts, “organotextile catalysis” has several advantages. It provides the reagents with a larger surface than other supports. Moreover, nylon is flexible and very inexpensive. Dry textiles loaded with catalysts are easy to transport, which means that it is simpler to meet the requirements for some chemical processes where it is practically impossible to set up sophisticated chemical systems. For example, organotextile catalysis could help in the treatment of water in locations where people are cut off from the water supply. “Our method enables the low-cost production of long-term functionalized textiles without causing any pollution,” said Ji-Woong Lee who recently completed his doctorate at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung under the supervision of Benjamin List, head of the Institute’s Homogenous Catalysis Group. “In addition to chemistry, these could include biology, the materials science and pharmaceutics,” he added.