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Organic solvent system may improve catalyst recycling and create new nanomedicine uses
Date:10/28/2010

Noble metals such as platinum and palladium are becoming increasingly important because of growth in environmentally friendly applications such as fuel cells and pollution control catalysts. But the world has limited quantities of these materials, meaning manufacturers will have to rely on efficient recycling processes to help meet the demand.

Existing recycling processes use a combination of two inorganic acids known as "aqua regia" to dissolve noble metals, a class of materials that includes platinum, palladium, gold and silver. But because the metals are often dissolved together, impurities introduced in the recycling process may harm the efficiency of catalysts produced from the recycled materials. Now, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new organic solvent process that may help address the problem and open up new possibilities for using these metals in cancer therapeutics, microelectronics and other applications.

The new Georgia Tech solvent system uses a combination of two chemicals thionyl chloride and a variety of organic reagents such as pyridine, N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF), pyrimidine or imidazole. The concentrations can be adjusted to preferentially dissolve gold or palladium, and more importantly, no combination of the organic chemicals dissolves platinum. This ability to preferentially dissolve noble metals creates a customized system that provides a high level of control over the process.

"We need to be able to selectively dissolve these noble metals to ensure their purity in a variety of important applications," said C.P. Wong, a Regents professor in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering. "Though we don't fully understand how it works yet, we believe this system opens a lot of new possibilities for using these metals."

A paper describing the research was published recently in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Catalyst systems that
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Contact: John Toon
jtoon@gatech.edu
404-894-6986
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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