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Projects Database

A Bioengineering Approach to Nanoparticle based Environmental Remediation


Project Information

Award Amount:$399,979.00
Dollars Leveraged:$0.00
Start-End Dates:2/1/02-1/31/05
URL: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/dis...
Description:The management of anthropogenic chemical toxins is a major environmental challenge. Various strategies have been employed to facilitate the degradation of this class of pollutant. Processes involving nano-sized materials have garnered interest because it is well known that nano-sized particles exhibit unusual thermal and photo-chemistry in a variety of chemical applications when compared to particles of larger dimensions. Our objective is to develop a bioengineering approach that can be used to develop nano-size catalytic materials as the basis for new remediation strategies. Here we propose a research program to assess the potential use of ferritin, and ferritin-derived compounds, as catalysts in environmental degradation processes. The ferritin system has the advantage of being environmentally benign and biodegradable. Ferritin is an iron-storage protein that consists of a native nano-size iron oxide core (ferrihydrite) encapsulated within a spherical protein cage (120 D diameter). Ferritin is commercially available, but it has also been cloned in our laboratory and can be produced in gram quantities. We have shown that the size of the iron oxide particles can be controlled to form homogeneous nanoparticles from 20 to 75 D. Also, the native iron oxide core of ferritin can be replaced by other metal oxides such as Mn and Co oxides. Such inorganic materials at more traditional size ranges (> micron) exhibit photocatalytic and catalytic activity in a variety of systems. Our hypothesis is that by assembling these materials as nanoparticles within the ferritin (i.e., the protein shell) we can "tune" their surface chemistry toward beneficial environmental chemistry through our control of their size and electronic structure. Furthermore, by the chemical functionalization of the ferritin cage, we can further alter the chemical reactivity of the nanoparticle. Our research focuses on: (1) the development of a bioengineered synthesis of a variety of homogeneous nano-sized metal and metal oxide particles; (2) the determination of the electronic properties of the nanoparticles and their reduced forms (i.e., the base metal) as a function of size; (3) a determination of the reactivity of the particles toward beneficial environmental chemistry, as a function of size and electronic structure.

Products/Reports

  • 2002 Progress Report: A Bioengineering Approach to Nanoparticle based Environmental Remediation
    The objective of this research project is to develop a bioengineering approach that can be used to develop nano-sized catalytic materials as the basis for new remediation strategies. We are investigating the use of ferritin, and ferritin-derived compounds, as catalysts in environmental degradation processes. The management of anthropogenic chemical toxins is a major environmental challenge. Various strategies have been employed to facilitate the degradation of this class of pollutants. Processes involving nano-sized materials have garnered interest because it is well known that nano-sized particles exhibit unusual thermal and photochemistry in a variety of chemical applications, when compared to particles of larger dimensions. The ferritin system has the advantage of being environmentally benign and biodegradable. Ferritin is an iron-storage protein that consists of a native nano-size iron oxide core (ferrihydrite), encapsulated within a spherical protein cage (120 Å diameter). Ferritin is commercially available, but it also has been cloned in our laboratory and can be produced in gram quantities. We have shown that the size of the iron oxide particles can be controlled to form homogeneous nanoparticles from 20 to 75 Å. Also, the native iron oxide core of ferritin can be replaced by other metal oxides, such as Mn and Co oxides. Such inorganic materials, at more traditional size ranges (> micron), exhibit photocatalytic and catalytic activity in a variety of systems. Our hypothesis is that by assembling these materials as nanoparticles within the ferritin (i.e., the protein shell), we can "tune" their surface chemistry toward beneficial environmental chemistry through our control of their size and electronic structure.
  • Final Report: A Bioengineering Approach to Nanoparticle based Environmental Remediation
    The overall goal of this research project was to develop biomediated routes to the synthesis and control of nanometal and metal oxide structures and to use these nanostructures for both chemical and photochemical environmental remediation. Our working hypothesis is that nanomaterials will provide a chemistry conducive to environmental remediation that cannot be obtained at more traditional spatial dimensions (i.e., > Fm). The research was a multidisciplinary effort to develop a firm understanding of the properties of nanosize metal oxide compounds within the protein shell (or cage) of the iron (Fe) storage protein, ferritin. These systems are unexplored in terms of their potential use in remediation processes or as a method for synthesis of nanoscale particles of metal compounds. The entire system, consisting of the inorganic core material and protein shell, provided opportunities for the development of new catalysts by manipulating the composition and size of the core material, as well as chemically functionalizing the surrounding protein shell. The specific objectives of this research project were to: (1) develop a bioengineering approach to assemble nano-size particles with well-defined size and composition; and (2) investigate the potential for use of the synthesized nanoparticles in environmental remediation chemistry as a function of size and composition. To meet Objective 1, we developed methods to synthesize oxide nanoparticles within ferritin having different sizes in the nanoregime. These nanoparticles also were to be used as precursors to nanometallic particles. To meet Objective 2, we investigated the photochemistry of ferritin-derived particles for environmentally relevant redox chemistry.

Funding Organizations

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are funding this project.

U.S. EPA Headquarters - Primary Contact

U.S. EPA Headquarters 8722R
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Washington, District of Columbia 20460
p: 202-343-9858
Individual Contacts


Organizations Receiving Funding

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are receiving funding for this project.

Montana State University - Partner

Bozeman, Montana 59717
Individual Contacts

State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook - Partner

Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, New York 11794
p: 631-632-6000
Individual Contacts
  • Martin Schoonen

Temple University - Partner

Broad and Montgomery
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122
Individual Contacts

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).

P2Rx

One East Hazelwood Drive; Champaign, IL; 61820; (800) 407-0261; glrppr@glrppr.org