Encapsulated Catalyst

Ref: 10625
A method for placing various catalysts in nanocapsules, which protects the catalysts from harmful conditions and facilitates their recovery from reaction mixtures.

Key advantages
  • Can protect catalysts from adverse conditions, increasing their longevity.
  • Improved catalyst recovery, which reduces costs.
  • Possilibity of enhanced and more accessible enantioselective reactions


Catalysis is an integral part of production in industry. By increasing the speed and reducing the cost of reactions, industry can produce cheaper and more readily available goods and services.

The rising energy costs and diminuition of fossil fuel based energy sources mean that to keep production cost effective and maintain our standard of living there needs to be constant improvements to catalysis methods.

This invention can help improve catalysis by increasing the longevity and recovery of catalysts in general, reducing the costs involved in the synthesis of the desired product.

The pharmaceutical industry is particularly reliant on catalysis, as a method for the production of enantiomerically pure compounds. Enantiomers are "mirror image" isomers of compounds, and many drugs only work as one of the mirror images.

This invention can also provide another path toward enantioselective synthesis (that is, the production of one mirror image only), at dramatically reduced costs.

The invention

(Top) The hollow nanocapsules with no catalyst inside them, observed using 2-photon fluoresence micr

The increased longevity of the catalyst trapped in the nanocapsule is from the nanocapsule's ability to protect the catalyst from adverse conditions (e.g. other catalysts that can interfere with its operation).

This protection means that the catalyst may be used in harsher conditions, or improving yields and reaction rates without catalyst degredation. Hence the versatility of the catalyst can be improved while at the same time the associated costs are reduced.

Furthermore, as the nanocapsules are insoluble, this allows the use of a normally soluble catalyst without the usual problem of catalyst recovery. Therefore the recyclability of catalysts can be improved, substantially reducing the cost of the catalyst per kilogram of product.

Finally, there are further possibilities in using these nanocapsules to assist in enantioselective reactions (e.g. in conjunction with an enzyme).

Image: (Top) The hollow nanocapsules with no catalyst inside them, observed using 2-photon fluoresence microscopy
(Bottom) The same nanocapsules with a fluoresencent dye labelled enzyme inside them (blue).


Polymerisation of acrylates, alkenes, dienes and alkynes; Low cost polymerisation catalysts.

Principal inventors

  • Aaron Yap
  • Alessandro Fois
  • Associate Professor Anthony Masters
  • Professor Thomas Maschmeyer