Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Modified Catalyst Simplifies Manufacture Of Myriad Goods

Date:
October 7, 1997
Source:
University of Rochester
Summary:
By tweaking the structure of a class of increasingly popular chemical catalysts known as metallocenes, chemists at the University of Rochester have uncovered a much simpler way to make billions of tons of the material that forms the basis of a wide range of consumer goods, including soaps, detergents, oils, and plastics.

Related Articles


"This is a spectacularly interesting finding," says RickKemp, a senior research scientist at the Union CarbideCorporation and an expert in the class of materials known asalpha-olefins, which form the chemical backbone of many consumerproducts. "The new catalyst appears to yield products that arevirtually 100 percent pure, a trait that's increasingly desirablein industry."

Scientists making alpha-olefins typically need temperaturesof 400 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of 100 to 200atmospheres. That's because they use aluminum or nickelcatalysts, which require extreme pressures and temperatures towork.

"It's costly to attain these conditions and build thereactors needed to make alpha-olefins with aluminum or nickelcatalysts," says Guillermo Bazan, associate professor ofchemistry and primary author of the JACS article.

Bazan's modified metallocene catalyst,bis(ethoxyboratabenzene) zirconium dichloride (BEZD), is capableof churning out alpha-olefins at only one atmosphere of pressureand temperatures just slightly above room temperature. BEZDstrings ethylene molecules end-to-end to form alpha-olefins justas quickly as traditional aluminum and nickel catalysts, Bazansays. It also gives scientists precise control over just how longthe chains grow. Under varying pressure, BEZD can produce carbonchains ranging from ethylene dimers, with just four carbonsatoms, all the way up to full-fledged polymers containing manythousands.

"There are a million and one uses for alpha-olefins," Kempsays. "In addition to serving as precursors for detergents,synthetic lubricants, and octane enhancers, they're used toproduce a significant fraction of the 150 billion pounds ofpolyethylene and polypropylene produced each year -- plasticsfound in products ranging from ice cube trays to textiles tobottle caps to trash bags."

To make the new catalyst, Bazan put a new spin onmetallocenes, a class of catalysts currently taking the world ofplastics by storm. Scientists have known for more than 40 yearsthat these materials have potent catalytic properties, but it'sonly recently that the plastics industry has begun to takeadvantage of them to create polymers.

The catalyst molecule Bazan created bears a strikingstructural and electronic resemblance to metallocenes, whichtypically include two five-carbon rings bracketing a single atomof the transition metal zirconium. Bazan's molecule features six-membered rings containing five carbons and an added boron atom toregulate zirconium's reactivity. But the molecules that grow inthe presence of the two catalysts are dramatically different.While traditional metallocenes yield long polymers of ethylene,BEZD leads to alpha-olefins, which are much shorter, versatile,and easily modified organic chains. While research by Shell inthe Netherlands has shown limited success making alpha-olefinsusing metallocene-like catalysts, Kemp believes Bazan's approachis more sophisticated and leads to far better products.

By working with chemical companies, Bazan hopes to determinewithin the next year whether BEZD is an industrially feasiblemeans of producing alpha-olefins.

Graduate students Jonathan Rogers and Caroline Sperry joinedBazan in the research, which was funded by the Alfred SloanFoundation and the Henry and Camille Dreyfus Foundation.

Schematic of new molecule


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Rochester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Rochester. "Modified Catalyst Simplifies Manufacture Of Myriad Goods." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/10/971007124311.htm>.
University of Rochester. (1997, October 7). Modified Catalyst Simplifies Manufacture Of Myriad Goods. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/10/971007124311.htm
University of Rochester. "Modified Catalyst Simplifies Manufacture Of Myriad Goods." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/10/971007124311.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A California-based startup has designed new law enforcement technology that aims to automatically alert dispatch when an officer's gun is unholstered and fired. Two law enforcement agencies are currently testing the technology. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins