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Cordeiro, T, Santos AFM, Nunes G, Cunha G, Sotomayor JC, Fonseca IM, Florence Danède, Dias CJ, Cardoso MM, Correia NT, Viciosa TM, Dionísio M.  2016.  Accessing the Physical State and Molecular Mobility of Naproxen Confined to Nanoporous Silica Matrixes. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C. 120:14390-14401., Number 26 AbstractWebsite

The pharmaceutical drug naproxen was loaded in three different silica hosts with pore diameters of 2.4 (MCM), 3.2 (MCM), and 5.9 nm (SBA), respectively: napMCM\_2.4 nm, napMCM\_3.2 nm, and napSBA\_5.9 nm. To access the guest physical state in the prepared composites, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy were used. The different techniques provided complementary information on a molecular population that was revealed to be distributed among different environments, namely the pore core, the inner pore wall, and the outer surface. It was found that naproxen is semicrystalline in the higher pore size matrix being able to crystallize inside pores; after melting it undergoes full amorphization. In the case of the lower pore size matrix, naproxen crystallizes outside pores due to an excess of filling while most of the remaining fraction is incorporated inside the pores as amorphous. Crystallinity in these two composites was observed by the emergence of the Bragg peaks in the XRD analysis, whereas for napMCM\_3.2 nm only the amorphous halo was detected. The latter only exhibits the step due to the glass transition by DSC remaining stable as amorphous at least for 12 months. The glass transition in the three composites is abnormally broad, shifting to higher temperatures as the pore size decreases, coherent with the slowing down of molecular mobility as probed by dielectric relaxation spectroscopy. For napSBA\_5.9 nm the dielectric response was deconvoluted in two processes: a hindered surface (S-) process due to molecules interacting with the inner pore wall and a faster α-relaxation associated with the dynamic glass transition due to molecules relaxing in the pore core, which seems a manifestation of true confinement effects. The drug incorporation inside a nanoporous matrix, mainly in 3.2 nm pores, was revealed to be a suitable strategy to stabilize the highly crystallizable drug naproxen in the amorphous/supercooled state and to control its release from the silica matrix, allowing full delivery after 90 min in basic media.

Godino-Ojer, M, Matos I, Bernardo M, Carvalho R, G.P. Soares OS, Durán-Valle C, Fonseca IM, Mayoral PE.  2020.  Acidic porous carbons involved in the green and selective synthesis of benzodiazepines. Catalysis Today. 357:64-73. AbstractWebsite

Eco-sustainable and recyclable porous carbons are reported as metal-free catalysts for the synthesis of benzodiazepines for the first time. The porous carbons were able to efficiently catalyse the synthesis of benzodiazepine 1 from o-phenylendiamine 2 and acetone 3 under mild conditions. Both acidic functions and the porosity of the catalysts were determinant features. High conversion values were obtained when using HNO3 oxidized carbons. The highest selectivity to benzodiazepine 1 was obtained in the presence of the most microporous catalyst N-N, which is indicative of the great influence of porous properties. Stronger acid sites and high microporosity of the carbon treated with H2SO4 yield benzodiazepine 1 with total selectivity.

Dias, D, Bernardo M, Lapa N, Pinto F, Matos I, Fonseca I.  2018.  Activated carbons from the Co-pyrolysis of rice wastes for Cr(III) removal. Chemical Engineering Transactions. 65:601-606.
Dias, D, Bernardo M, Matos I, Fonseca I, Pinto F, Lapa N.  2020.  Activation of co-pyrolysis chars from rice wastes to improve the removal of Cr3+ from simulated and real industrial wastewaters. Journal of Cleaner Production. 267:121993. AbstractWebsite

Chromium is one of the most important raw materials for the European Union. Adsorption has become an important process for the recovery of metals from wastewaters, which has led to a demand for low-cost and eco-friendly adsorbents. The objective of this work was to use new and renewable carbon-based adsorbents from rice wastes in the removal/recovery of Cr(III) from synthetic and real wastewaters. Rice wastes were submitted to co-pyrolysis and the resulting char was optimized through physical and/or chemical activations/treatments. A commercial activated carbon was used for comparison purposes. All adsorbents were characterized (including an ecotoxicity test for the char precursor) and submitted to Cr(III) removal assays from a synthetic solution, in which two solid/liquid ratios (S/L) were tested (5 and 10 g/L). The CO2 activated carbon at a S/L = 5 g/L was the biomass-derived adsorbent that performed better, obtaining a maximum Cr(III) uptake capacity of 9.23 mg/g comparable to the one obtained by the commercial adsorbent at the same S/L (9.80 mg/g). The good results on this biomass-derived carbon were due to the effective volatile matter removal during the activation (from 22.7 to 4.25% w/w), which increased both surface area (from <5.0 to 325 m2/g) and ash content (from 30.0 to 40.4% w/w), allowing an increase in Cr(III) removal due to ion exchange mechanism and porosity development. The best adsorbent, under optimized conditions, was also applied to a chromium rich industrial wastewater. The results obtained in this real case application demonstrated a competition effect due to the presence of other ions.

Godinho, D, Dias D, Bernardo M, Lapa N, Fonseca I, Lopes H, Pinto F.  2017.  Adding value to gasification and co-pyrolysis chars as removal agents of Cr3+. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 321:173-182. AbstractWebsite

The present work aims to assess the efficiency of chars, obtained from the gasification and co-pyrolysis of rice wastes, as adsorbents of Cr3+ from aqueous solution. GC and PC chars, produced in the gasification and co-pyrolysis, respectively, of rice husk and polyethylene were studied. Cr3+ removal assays were optimised for the initial pH value, adsorbent mass, contact time and Cr3+ initial concentration. GC showed a better performance than PC with about 100% Cr3+ removal, due to the pH increase that caused Cr precipitation. Under pH conditions in which the adsorption prevailed (pH<5.5), GC presented the highest uptake capacity (21.1mg Cr3+ g−1 char) for the following initial conditions: 50mg Cr3+ L−1; pH 5; contact time: 24h;L/S ratio: 1000mLg−1. The pseudo-second order kinetic model showed the best adjustment to GC experimental data. Both the first and second order kinetic models fitted well to PC experimental data. The ion exchange was the dominant phenomenon on the Cr3+ adsorption by GC sample. Also, this char significantly reduced the ecotoxicity of Cr3+ solutions for the bacterium Vibrio fischeri. GC char proved to be an efficient material to remove Cr3+ from aqueous solution, without the need for further activation.

Rodrigues, ARF, Maia MRG, Cabrita ARJ, Oliveira HM, Bernardo M, Lapa N, Fonseca I, Trindade H, Pereira JL, Fonseca AJM.  2020.  Assessment of potato peel and agro-forestry biochars supplementation on in vitro ruminal fermentation. PeerJ. 8:e9488. AbstractWebsite

Background The awareness of environmental and socio-economic impacts caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector leverages the adoption of strategies to counteract it. Feed supplements can play an important role in the reduction of the main greenhouse gas produced by ruminants—methane (CH\textsubscript{4}). In this context, this study aims to assess the effect of two biochar sources and inclusion levels on rumen fermentation parameters \textit{in vitro}. Methods Two sources of biochar (agro-forestry residues, AFB, and potato peel, PPB) were added at two levels (5 and 10%, dry matter (DM) basis) to two basal substrates (haylage and corn silage) and incubated 24-h with rumen inocula to assess the effects on CH\textsubscript{4} production and main rumen fermentation parameters \textit{in vitro}. Results AFB and PPB were obtained at different carbonization conditions resulting in different apparent surface areas, ash content, pH at the point of zero charge (pHpzc), and elemental analysis. Relative to control (0% biochar), biochar supplementation kept unaffected total gas production and yield (mL and mL/g DM, \textit{p} = 0.140 and \textit{p} = 0.240, respectively) and fermentation pH (\textit{p} = 0.666), increased CH\textsubscript{4}production and yield (mL and mL/g DM, respectively, \textit{p} = 0.001) and ammonia-N (NH\textsubscript{3}-N, \textit{p} = 0.040), and decreased total volatile fatty acids (VFA) production (\textit{p} < 0.001) and H\textsubscript{2} generated and consumed (\textit{p} ≤ 0.001). Biochar sources and inclusion levels had no negative effect on most of the fermentation parameters and efficiency. Acetic:propionic acid ratio (\textit{p} = 0.048) and H\textsubscript{2} consumed (\textit{p} = 0.019) were lower with AFB inclusion when compared to PPB. Biochar inclusion at 10% reduced H\textsubscript{2} consumed (\textit{p} < 0.001) and tended to reduce total gas production (\textit{p} = 0.055). Total VFA production (\textit{p} = 0.019), acetic acid proportion (\textit{p} = 0.011) and H\textsubscript{2} generated (\textit{p} = 0.048) were the lowest with AFB supplemented at 10%, no differences being observed among the other treatments. The basal substrate affected most fermentation parameters independently of biochar source and level used. Discussion Biochar supplementation increased NH\textsubscript{3}-N content, \textit{iso}-butyric, \textit{iso}-valeric and valeric acid proportions, and decreased VFA production suggesting a reduced energy supply for microbial growth, higher proteolysis and deamination of substrate N, and a decrease of NH\textsubscript{3}-N incorporation into microbial protein. No interaction was found between substrate and biochar source or level on any of the parameters measured. Although AFB and PPB had different textural and compositional characteristics, their effects on the rumen fermentation parameters were similar, the only observed effects being due to AFB included at 10%. Biochar supplementation promoted CH\textsubscript{4} production regardless of the source and inclusion level, suggesting that there may be other effects beyond biomass and temperature of production of biochar, highlighting the need to consider other characteristics to better identify the mechanism by which biochar may influence CH\textsubscript{4} production.