Continuous processes based on Structured Catalytic Supports (SCS) are widely used in industry. Indeed this type of support allows an important surface over volume ratio, a small pressure loss, efficient mass transfers, an intimate mixing of the reagents, and an easy separation of the products from the catalyst. Among the variety of SCS, open cell foams are prime candidates, which fulfill all these features. Of ceramic or metallic constitution, these host architectures are ideal supports for metallic particles. The preparation of these foams however requires several steps, and the physisorption of metallic particles a thermic treatment at very high temperature. This expensive and energy consuming way of preparation represents an important drawback in the development of this kind of catalyst, especially when taking into account the current economic and ecological constraints. Moreover these foams present a number of others drawbacks inherent to their structure: (i) they are heavy and thus difficult to handle, (ii) they are not flexible and usually display micro-cracks, which render them breakable, (iii) they present many closed cells, which renders the reproducibility unpredictable, and (iv) the recovery of the expensive catalyst adsorbed on the foam often necessitates numerous chemical treatments in highly corrosive media.
With POLYCATPUF, we propose an alternative based on the use of polyurethane open cell foams (OCPUF). These foams, commercially available in very large quantities and at low cost, present the same structural properties than ceramic or metallic foams, with the advantage to be easily engineered because of their lightweight and mechanical flexibility (elastomer). Recently, we have demonstrated that the whole surface of this polymeric structured material can be efficiently coated with polydopamine (PDA). This layer of PDA (OCPUF@PDA) allows the grafting of inorganic nanoparticles, as well as the covalent anchoring of organic compounds (Patent WO 2016 012689 A2). Moreover this coating process is industrially valuable because it operates at room temperature in water in the sole presence of dopamine and a buffer. These preliminary results constitute the basis of our project.
POLYCATPUF is a frontier research project that involves the close collaboration of three academic partners, mastered in surface science and materials, catalysis, and chemical engineering, and of an industrial partner. A consortium based on an experience of several years between the partners. The project aims to demonstrate all the potentialities offered by open cell polymeric foams as support for both homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts. First of all, the covalent anchoring of homogeneous catalysts opens the door to a large variety of catalysts that were unconceivable with ceramic or metallic foams. The possibility to graft both single-site and multi-site catalysts allows conceiving processes of combined catalysis. Thanks to the presence of an industrial partner, the use of OCPUF as catalytic support will also be evaluated in an industrial reactor. Finally based on the elastic properties of OCPUF, innovative reactors will be envisioned.
The use of these OCPUF as catalytic supports may thus have a significant scientific, technologic, economic, and ecologic impact on the current industrial processes, from which might benefit the whole society.
Institut Charles Sadron (Laboratoire public)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
Institut Charles Sadron
Laboratoire de Chimie Moléculaire
Laboratoire d'Automatique et de Génie des Procédés
ADISSEO France SAS
Help of the ANR 329,412 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2016 - 36 Months