Matching Items (8)

Filtering by

Clear all filters

Heterogeneous Catalysis for Organic Reactions

Description

This honors thesis is focused on two separate catalysis projects conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Javier Pérez-Ramírez at ETH Zürich. The first project explored ethylene oxychlorination over supported europium oxychloride catalysts. The second project investigated alkyne semihydrogenation over nickel

This honors thesis is focused on two separate catalysis projects conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Javier Pérez-Ramírez at ETH Zürich. The first project explored ethylene oxychlorination over supported europium oxychloride catalysts. The second project investigated alkyne semihydrogenation over nickel phosphide catalysts. This work is the subject of a publication of which I am a co-author, as cited below.

Project 1 Abstract: Ethylene Oxychlorination
The current two-step process for the industrial process of vinyl chloride production involves CuCl2 catalyzed ethylene oxychlorination to ethylene dichloride followed by thermal cracking of the latter to vinyl chloride. To date, no industrial application of a one-step process is available. To close this gap, this work evaluates a wide range of self-prepared supported CeO2 and EuOCl catalysts for one-step production of vinyl chloride from ethylene in a fixed-bed reactor at 623 773 K and 1 bar using feed ratios of C2H4:HCl:O2:Ar:He = 3:3 6:1.5 6:3:82 89.5. Among all studied systems, CeO2/ZrO2 and CeO2/Zeolite MS show the highest activity but suffer from severe combustion of ethylene, forming COx, while 20 wt.% EuOCl/γ-Al2O3 leads to the best vinyl chloride selectivity of 87% at 15.6% C2H4 conversion with complete suppression of CO2 formation and only 4% selectivity to CO conversion for over 100 h on stream. Characterization by XRD and EDX mapping reveals that much of the Eu is present in non-active phases such as Al2Eu or EuAl4, indicating that alternative synthesis methods could be employed to better utilize the metal. A linear relationship between conversion and metal loading is found for this catalyst, indicating that always part of the used Eu is available as EuOCl, while the rest forms inactive europium aluminate species. Zeolite-supported EuOCl slightly outperforms EuOCl/γ Al2O3 in terms of total yield, but is prone to significant coking and is unstable. Even though a lot of Eu seems locked in inactive species on EuOCl/γ Al2O3, these results indicate possible savings of nearly 16,000 USD per kg of catalyst compared to a bulk EuOCl catalyst. These very promising findings constitute a crucial step for process intensification of polyvinyl chloride production and exploring the potential of supported EuOCl catalysts in industrially-relevant reactions.

Project 2 Abstract: Alkyne Semihydrogenation
Despite strongly suffering from poor noble metal utilization and a highly toxic selectivity modifier (Pb), the archetypal catalyst applied for the three-phase alkyne semihydrogenation, the Pb-doped Pd/CaCO3 (Lindlar catalyst), is still being utilized at industrial level. Inspired by the very recent strategies involving the modification of Pd with p-block elements (i.e., S), this work extrapolates the concept by preparing crystalline metal phosphides with controlled stoichiometry. To develop an affordable and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional hydrogenation catalysts, nickel, a metal belonging to the same group as Pd and capable of splitting molecular hydrogen has been selected. Herein, a simple two-step synthesis procedure involving nontoxic precursors was used to synthesize bulk nickel phosphides with different stoichiometries (Ni2P, Ni5P4, and Ni12P5) by controlling the P:Ni ratios. To uncover structural and surface features, this catalyst family is characterized with an array of methods including X-ray diffraction (XRD), 31P magic-angle nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS-NMR) spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Bulk-sensitive techniques prove the successful preparation of pure phases while XPS analysis unravels the facile passivation occurring at the NixPy surface that persists even after reductive treatment. To assess the characteristic surface fingerprints of these materials, Ar sputtering was carried out at different penetration depths, reveling the presence of Ni+ and P-species. Continuous-flow three-phase hydrogenations of short-chain acetylenic compounds display that the oxidized layer covering the surface is reduced under reaction conditions, as evidenced by the induction period before reaching the steady state performance. To assess the impact of the phosphidation treatment on catalytic performance, the catalysts were benchmarked against a commercial Ni/SiO2-Al2O3 sample. While Ni/SiO2-Al2O3 presents very low selectivity to the alkene (the selectivity is about 10% at full conversion) attributed to the well-known tendency of naked nickel nanoparticles to form hydrides, the performance of nickel phosphides is highly selective and independent of P:Ni ratio. In line with previous findings on PdxS, kinetic tests indicate the occurrence of a dual-site mechanism where the alkyne and hydrogen do not compete for the same site.

This work is the subject of a publication of which I am a co-author, as cited below.

D. Albani; K. Karajovic; B. Tata; Q. Li; S. Mitchell; N. López; J. Pérez-Ramírez. Ensemble Design in Nickel Phosphide Catalysts for Alkyne Semi-Hydrogenation. ChemCatChem 2019. doi.org/10.1002/cctc.201801430

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2019-05

133504-Thumbnail Image.png

Improving Biochemical Production in Escherichia coli through Nutrient Limitation

Description

Escherichia coli is a bacterium that is used widely in metabolic engineering due to its ability to grow at a fast rate and to be cultured easily. E. coli can be engineered to produce many valuable chemicals, including biofuels and

Escherichia coli is a bacterium that is used widely in metabolic engineering due to its ability to grow at a fast rate and to be cultured easily. E. coli can be engineered to produce many valuable chemicals, including biofuels and L-Phenylalanine—a precursor to many pharmaceuticals. Significant cell growth occurs in parallel to the biosynthesis of the desired biofuel or biochemical product, and limits product concentrations and yields. Stopping cell growth can improve chemical production since more resources will go toward chemical production than toward biomass. The goal of the project is to test different methods of controlling microbial uptake of nutrients, specifically phosphate, to dynamically limit cell growth and improve biochemical production of E. coli, and the research has the potential to promote public health, sustainability, and environment. This can be achieved by targeting phosphate transporter genes using CRISPRi and CRISPR, and they will limit the uptake of phosphate by targeting the phosphate transporter genes in DNA, which will stop transcriptions of the genes. In the experiment, NST74∆crr∆pykAF, a L-Phe overproducer, was used as the base strain, and the pitA phosphate transporter gene was targeted in the CRISPRi and CRISPR systems with the strain with other phosphate transporters knocked out. The tested CRISPRi and CRISPR mechanisms did not stop cell growth or improved L-Phe production. Further research will be conducted to determine the problem of the system. In addition, the CRISPRi and CRISPR systems that target multiple phosphate transporter genes will be tested in the future as well as the other method of stopping transcriptions of the phosphate transporter genes, which is called a tunable toggle switch mechanism.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2018-05

134586-Thumbnail Image.png

Engineering a Co-culture System for Co-utilization of Lignocellulose-derived Sugars for Improved Biomass Conversion

Description

The inability of a single strain of bacteria to simultaneously and completely consume multiple sugars, such as glucose and xylose, hinder industrial microbial processes for ethanol and lactate production. To overcome this limitation, I am engineering an E. coli co-culture

The inability of a single strain of bacteria to simultaneously and completely consume multiple sugars, such as glucose and xylose, hinder industrial microbial processes for ethanol and lactate production. To overcome this limitation, I am engineering an E. coli co-culture system consisting of two ‘specialists'. One has the ability to only consume xylose and the other only glucose. This allows for co-utilization of lignocellulose-derived sugars so both sugars are completely consumed, residence time is reduced and lactate and ethanol titers are maximized.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2017-05

134030-Thumbnail Image.png

Modulating the Heat Shock Response in E. coli to Optimize Membrane Protein Expression

Description

Membrane proteins are essential for cell survival and show potential as pharmacological and therapeutic targets in the field of nanobiotechnology.[1,2] In spite of their promise in these fields, research surrounding membrane proteins lags since their over-expression often leads to cell

Membrane proteins are essential for cell survival and show potential as pharmacological and therapeutic targets in the field of nanobiotechnology.[1,2] In spite of their promise in these fields, research surrounding membrane proteins lags since their over-expression often leads to cell toxicity and death.[3,4] It was hypothesized that membrane protein expression could be regulated and optimized by modifying the heat shock response of Escherichia coli (E. coli). To test this hypothesis, the membrane protein expression pathway was reprogrammed using gene-blocks that were antisense to vital membrane protein DNA and RNA binding-site sequences and included an IbpA-σ32 heat shock promoter. Anti-PBAD and anti-HtdR gene-blocks were designed to have antisense sequences to the DNA of the arabinose PBAD promotor and Haloterrigena turkmenica deltarhodopsin (HtdR) transmembrane protein respectively. These sequences were then employed to be cloned into a pMM102 vector and grown in NEB-5α E. coli cells.

Stable glycerol stocks of the pIbpA-antiPBAD and pIbpA-antiHtdR in BW25113 cells with either a pBLN200 or pHtdR200 plasmid were created. Then after inducing the cells with L-arabinose and 10mM all-trans retinal to allow for membrane protein expression, spectrophotometry was used to test the optical density of the cells at an absorbance of 600nm. Although general trends showed that the pHtdR200-pMM102 and pHtdR200-pIbpA cells had lower optical densities than the pBLN200 cells of all types, the results were determined to be statistically insignificant. Continuing, the pHtdR200 cells of all types showed a purple phenotype when spun down, as expected, while the cells with the pBLN200 plasmid had a colorless phenotype in pellet form. Further work will include cloning a GFP gene-block to test the ability of the anti-PBAD sequence in tuning the transcription of the GFP protein.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2018-05

136282-Thumbnail Image.png

Investigation of the effect of efflux pumps on the toxicity of phenol, 2-phenylethanol, and styrene to E. coli

Description

Depletion of fossil fuel resources has led to the investigation of alternate feedstocks for and methods of chemical synthesis, in particular the use of E. coli biocatalysts to produce fine commodity chemicals from renewable glucose sources. Production of phenol, 2-phenylethanol,

Depletion of fossil fuel resources has led to the investigation of alternate feedstocks for and methods of chemical synthesis, in particular the use of E. coli biocatalysts to produce fine commodity chemicals from renewable glucose sources. Production of phenol, 2-phenylethanol, and styrene was investigated, in particular the limitation in yield and accumulation that results from high product toxicity. This paper examines two methods of product toxicity mitigation: the use of efflux pumps and the separation of pathways which produce less toxic intermediates. A library of 43 efflux pumps from various organisms were screened for their potential to confer resistance to phenol, 2-phenylethanol, and styrene on an E. coli host. A pump sourced from P. putida was found to allow for increased host growth in the presence of styrene as compared to a cell with no efflux pump. The separation of styrene producing pathway was also investigated. Cells capable of performing the first and latter halves of the synthesis were allowed to grow separately and later combined in order to capitalize on the relatively lower toxicity of the intermediate, trans-cinnamate. The styrene production and yield from this separated set of cultures was compared to that resulting from the growth of cells containing the full set of styrene synthesis genes. Results from this experiment were inconclusive.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2015-05

135485-Thumbnail Image.png

Biological Alternative to Create Aromatic Esters Using Engineered Microorganisms as the Biocatalyst

Description

Four enzymes, ATF1, ATF2, ATF, and CAT, were screened to determine which would be most effective at catalyzing the formation of aromatic esters. The CAT enzyme successfully catalyzed the reaction to produce 2-phenethyl acetate using 20x more lysate to improve

Four enzymes, ATF1, ATF2, ATF, and CAT, were screened to determine which would be most effective at catalyzing the formation of aromatic esters. The CAT enzyme successfully catalyzed the reaction to produce 2-phenethyl acetate using 20x more lysate to improve the probability of enzyme presence in the lysate. The CAT enzyme was able to catalyze the reaction producing concentrations that increased by 62% every 12 hours. Enzymatic activity resulted in the production of 2.15 mg/L of 2-phenethyl acetate at 12 hours, 5.62 mg/L of 2-phenethyl acetate at 24 hours, and 15.12 mg/L of 2-phenethyl acetate at 48 hours.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2016-05

137240-Thumbnail Image.png

Styrene Oxide Adsorption on Commercial Resins

Description

The goals of the styrene oxide adsorption experiments were to develop reliable isotherms of styrene oxide onto Dowex Optipore L-493 resin and onto mesoporous carbon adsorbents, in addition to determining the ideal conditions for styrene oxide production from E. coli.

The goals of the styrene oxide adsorption experiments were to develop reliable isotherms of styrene oxide onto Dowex Optipore L-493 resin and onto mesoporous carbon adsorbents, in addition to determining the ideal conditions for styrene oxide production from E. coli. Adsorption is an effective means of separation used in industry to separate compounds, often organics from air and water. Styrene oxide adsorption runs without E. coli were conducted at concentrations ranging from 0.15 to 3.00 g/L with resin masses ranging from 0.1 to 0.5 g of Dowex Optipore L-493 and 0.5 to 0.75 g of mesoporous carbon adsorbent. Runs were conducted on a shake plate operating at 80 rpm for 24 hours at ambient temperature. Isotherms were developed from the results and then adsorption experiments with E. coli and L-493 were performed. Runs were conducted at glucose concentrations ranging from 20-40 g/L and resin masses of 0.100 g to 0.800 g. Samples were incubated for 72 hours and styrene oxide production was measured using an HPLC device. Specific loading values reached up to 0.356 g/g for runs without E. coli and nearly 0.003 g of styrene oxide was adsorbed by L-493 during runs with E. coli. Styrene oxide production was most effective at low resin masses and medium glucose concentrations when produced by E. coli.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2014-05

148463-Thumbnail Image.png

Development of a Polyethylene terephthalate Hydrolase Expression System in Escherichia coli

Description

The increased shift towards environmentalism has brought notable attention to a universal excessive plastic consumption and subsequent plastic overload in landfills. Among these plastics, polyethylene terephthalate, more commonly known as PET, constitutes a large percentage of the waste that ends

The increased shift towards environmentalism has brought notable attention to a universal excessive plastic consumption and subsequent plastic overload in landfills. Among these plastics, polyethylene terephthalate, more commonly known as PET, constitutes a large percentage of the waste that ends up in landfills. Material and chemical/thermal methods for recycling are both costly, and inefficient, which necessitates a more sustainable and cheaper alternative. The current study aims at fulfilling that role through genetic engineering of Bacillus subtilis with integration of genes from LCC, Ideonella sakaiensis, and Bacillus subtilis. The plasmid construction was done through restriction cloning. A recombinant plasmid for the expression of LCC was constructed, and transformed into Escherichia coli. Future experiments for this study should include redesigning of primers, with possible combination of signal peptides with genes during construct design, and more advanced assays for effective outcomes.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2021-05