The 20th and 21st centuries have seen an explosion in the use of synthetic chemicals worldwide, including pesticides, medications and household cleaners — many of which end up in our waterways. Even in small amounts these substances can affect wildlife, plants and humans, and a number of them have shown resistance to normal water treatment methods, leaving them to build up in the environment unchecked.
In a study published this week in the journal ACS Catalysis, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Green Science (IGS) blazed the trail for a new field of sustainable chemistry by unveiling powerful, safe and inexpensive oxidation catalysts inspired by the biological processes within us that break down even the most stubborn micropollutants.
“It’s maybe the most important paper that we’ve produced in 20 years,” said Teresa Heinz Professor in Green Chemistry Terrence J. Collins, who directs the IGS.
Collins, who has been concerned with the harmful biological effects of synthetic chemicals since his days as an undergraduate student in New Zealand, has spent the last four decades working to develop methods to remove these chemicals from water using the process of oxidation, a process familiar to the human body.
“Oxidation chemistry is some considerable percentage of the biochemistry going on within us,” Collins noted. “This is how nature deals with the problem of converting organic matter, particularly very chemically resistant organic matter, into usable material for its biochemistry or into energy to keep the organism going. Sometimes the resistance is too great for the enzymes that drive the oxidation chemistry and we have persistent compounds against which nature is powerless.”
The substrate of choice for many oxidation reactions within our bodies and elsewhere in nature is hydrogen peroxide, which peroxidase enzymes activate to break down molecules from food and other substances we take in. Collins’ goal since 1980 essentially has been to recreate the power and efficiency of these enzymes with artificial catalysts of his creation called tetra-amido macrocyclic ligands (TAMLs).
“We had to make the iron center of our catalysts do the same kind of chemistry as the iron center of the peroxidase enzymes,” Collins said. “We spent 15 years systematically figuring out how to make the TAML catalyst composition perform properly. Then having got the first one — we spent 20 years trying to make it better.”
In this new study, Collins describes the “record-setting” performances of these improved catalysts, called NewTAMLs. Testing has shown that infinitesimal amounts of these catalysts activate hydrogen peroxide to eliminate the pharmaceutical and common persistent micropollutant propranolol from water in less than five minutes.
Because of their speed and efficiency, Collins envisions NewTAMLs having major cost savings over current water treatment techniques, such as ozone purification. Even more important to him than cost and power, however, is safety. A catalyst that eliminated micropollutants would be pointless if the catalyst itself ended up causing harmful effects in living organisms.
“It’s trivial to find out if something’s acutely toxic — it’s when something is surreptitiously toxic in parts per trillion in your body that you have a big problem,” Collins explained. “Endocrine hormones in your body work in parts per trillion to low parts per billion concentrations. They control how much of life develops and what we become. The current host of everyday, everywhere chemicals that we have discovered are endocrine disruptors reads like a science fiction horror story — but it is reality.”
To test the catalysts’ safety, Collins helped world leaders of endocrine disruption science to identify appropriate assays and arrange them logically to screen for low-dose adverse effects of chemicals. And TAMLs and NewTAMLs have been used for beta-testing the resulting Tiered Protocol for Endocrine Disruption. The NewTAML paper incorporates an endocrine disruption assay in mice, which the candidate catalyst passed with flying colors.
The Latest on: Sustainable chemistry
via Google News
The Latest on: Sustainable chemistry
- Los Angeles Lakers’ Chemistry Best in NBA? Danny Green Reveals Whyon December 15, 2019 at 10:25 am
We’re trying to play April, May and June and being the last team standing.” Green likes how the Lakers have buit a rapport. “Our locker room and off the court chemistry is probably an A or an A-plus,” ...
- ‘Post-Chemical World’ Takes Shape as Agribusiness Goes Greenon December 12, 2019 at 2:00 am
Why ‘Green New Deal’ Put Washington in Such a Lather ... there is little food scarcity because “we did good things with all that ‘better living through chemistry,’” Kling said, referring to a play on ...
- Green Chemistry: The Secret Behind Sustainable Product Developmenton December 12, 2019 at 1:08 am
Behind the scenes of many corporate sustainability commitments are improved chemical processes that reduce environmental impact, also called green chemistry. So, what is green chemistry, and why does ...
- New function for plant enzyme could lead to green chemistryon December 9, 2019 at 9:40 am
"This enzyme could inspire a new form of 'green' chemistry," said Brookhaven Lab biochemist John Shanklin, who led the research. "Maybe we can adapt this biomolecule to make useful chemicals in plants ...
- Sustainable new material for carbon dioxide captureon December 9, 2019 at 6:47 am
PhD student at Chalmers' Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and one of the researchers behind the study. The researchers' work has yielded important knowledge and points the way for ...
- Quade Green guides No. 22 Huskies to 90-80 win over Eastern Washingtonon December 5, 2019 at 9:19 am
Hopkins has often compared this season to learning how to dance with a new partner. Finding the right chemistry is a process, and that’s particularly true with a new point guard. Green, a former ...
- Draymond Green reflects on journey in Michigan State jersey retirementon December 4, 2019 at 12:00 pm
The Warriors got D’Angelo Russell, Kevon Looney and Draymond Green back during this trip. Jacob Evans is a “maybe” to play tonight. Damian Lee is closer to returning as well. The issues that come with ...
- Chemical research made cleaner, more sustainable in University labon December 3, 2019 at 9:13 pm
The team also advanced the effort to make chemical sciences more sustainable — they incorporated new methods of “green chemistry” that they hope can drastically reduce chemical waste in future ...
- Danny Green Explains How LeBron James Reacts To Criticismon December 3, 2019 at 8:41 am
James seems to have great chemistry with his teammates so far even if the squad goes through some rough patches. In an article by Erik Garcia Gundersen of LeBron Wire, Lakers player Danny Green was ...
- Integrated Green Chemical Approach to the Medicinal Plant Carpobrotus edulis Processingon December 3, 2019 at 2:16 am
The overall work is also designed to comply with green chemistry principles 23, namely, with the following five: preventing waste, safer chemicals and products, safer solvents and reaction conditions, ...
via Bing News