Laundry detergents widely contain bleaches for stain removal. These detergents contain quite large amounts of bleaching chemicals and it is expected that these levels could be reduced considerably leading to an improved environmental profile. Further, catalyst may activate bleaches to lower the washing temperatures, leading to major energy saving. Many transition-metal complexes have been studied in recent years.
The polyoxometallates (POM) catalysts show high oxidation activity in organic media and are easy to synthesize. At the Weizmann institute (Israel) there is a strong expertise present on POM. In the collaboration between Unilever and the Weizmann institute we intend to study the application of POM for detergents, especially to improve stability and the adsorption of POM/surfactants on the stains. The fellow will make use of modern high throughput techniques for bleaching and model reactivity studies. It is essential to bring in the appropriate level of expertise on POM and to retain a strong interaction with the home institute to obtain more stable POM and to regularly discuss new results and exchange ideas. In view of the knowledge to be transferred an experienced fellow is requested for 2 years. A highly suitable female candidate has been identified with a strong background in POM and oxidation chemistry. After returning to the home institute the fellow will remain there for at least one year to ensure efficient transfer of industrial knowledge on bleaching and surfactant-POM interactions to the institute.
The improved POM can be tested for model substrate oxidation activity, including wastewater treatment. The knowledge on POM-surfactant interactions can be further used to enhance catalytic activity for organic/aqueous substrate oxidations. Unilever will at the same time further study the suitability of POM for detergent applications. It is therefore foreseen that a strong interaction between Unilever and the Weizmann Institute will continue.
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