UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering


Article on epoxidation catalysis in Angewandte Chemie

15 July 2021


Our new article on "Precisely Engineered Supported Gold Clusters as a Stable Catalyst for Propylene Epoxidation" has just been published, open access, in a leading chemistry journal, Angewandte Chemie International Edition: https://doi.org/10.1002/ange.202104952

Propylene oxide is a key commodity chemical that is used in the manufacturing of common polymers, such as polyurethane foams and polyesters. The direct gas phase epoxidation of propylene by H2 and O2 using Au based catalyst is highly desirable, as it is an environmentally friendly, potentially simpler one-step process. However, low catalyst stability and poor hydrogen efficiency are key issues that still need to be addressed to make the single-step process economically viable.

In this article, we have reported a stable and selective Au/TS-1 catalyst for direct gas phase epoxidation of propylene to propylene oxide. The synthesis methodology is highly versatile for obtaining a stable, supported gold catalyst. The stabilising ligands play an important role in providing enhanced stability to the Au nanoparticles.

This work is the result of outstanding collaboration with researchers from CNIE and SABIC, who also funded this project. The team consisted of PhD student Nidhi Kapil, former post-doctoral fellow Dr Tobias Weissenberger (now at IMM Fraunhofer), former MSc Erasmus student Fabio Cardinale (Politecnico di Milano), senior researcher Dr Panagiotis Trogadas, Chief Scientist Dr T. Alexander Nijhuis (SABIC Europe), former post-doctoral fellow Dr Michael Nigra (now Assistant Professor at the University of Utah) and CNIE Director Prof Marc-Olivier Coppens.

Congratulations to the entire team, and especially to first author Nidhi Kapil, who has just submitted her PhD thesis!