In the recent years there has been an increase in the use of copper nanoparticles as catalyst due to their high surface-to-volume ratio. However, the use of these nanoparticles is restricted by copper’s inherent instability under atmospheric conditions, which makes it prone to oxidation. Therefore, the development of stable and robust copper nanoparticles is necessary, for its use as catalyst.
This invention provides a simple technology to produce a highly active, selective, stable and robust nanocatalyst: a bionanohybrid made up of copper nanoparticles synthesized in situ into an enzyme matrix. The method, which is based on the in situ formation of the nanoparticles into the protein network, also allows directing the synthesis of the nanoparticles to obtain the desired copper nano-species.
These novel catalysts showed excellent catalytic performance in the degradation of a toxic and pollutant compound in aqueous media. For example p-nitrophenol were completely reduced (starting with 150 ppm) into p-aminophenol in 15 seconds. For the degradation of Bisphenol A (46 ppm), 95% of the same was removed after 20 minutes.
The catalase activity (degradation of H2O2) of the different synthesized bionanohybrids was evaluated showing a moderate specific activity of 2.49 U/mg in distilled water.
The Spanish research organization is looking for chemical or biochemical companies interested in the collaboration for the development of the potential applications of the catalyst and interested in its use, under a patent license. The material has only been tested at a laboratory scale, but it can be easily adapted to an industrial scale and can be applied in different and promising applications: the degradation of organic pollutants, the synthesis of drugs, in the development of biosensors and in the development of antioxidant therapies.
The Spanish research organization has a broad experience in the development of novel catalyst for innovative industrial processes and in the collaboration with the industry in their development and scale up.