Developing an environmentally friendly, low-cost method for making palladium (Pd) nanoparticles.

Project overview

Project lead: Dirk Linke
Institution: University of Oslo
Partners: University of Birmingham, NTNU, University of Granada, Inven2, Giamag Technologies AS
Funding: BIOTEK 2021 RCN grant
Duration: 2022

Research group

BEDPAN is developing an environmentally friendly, low-cost method for making palladium (Pd) nanoparticles for use in medicines, electronics, energy cells, and chemical catalysis. The researchers screen bacteria that naturally make these particles and modify their genes to create a catalog of strains that produce nanoparticles with specific physical properties.

BEDPAN began as a collaboration between Dirk Linke and researchers in the UK who were studying the nanoparticles left behind by bacteria that were killed by Pd exposure. The location of the nanoparticles in the cells suggested to Linke that he could control the particles’ properties by genetically modifying the cell’s proteins. Now Linke and PhD student Nadeem Joudeh are working to uncover the genes that control Pd nanoparticle production and characteristics.

The BEDPAN project is a success of transdisciplinary collaboration: building a bridge between biologists, who know about this process but not the application, and material scientists, who know the need but were unaware that there were biological systems that produce these particles. This combination of experts is creating new tools to produce Pd nanoparticles with exciting properties for a wide range of industrial uses including: catalysts, targeted drug delivery systems, and fuel cells.

In the past year, BEDPAN has identified some of the unknown genes and pathways that control how the bacteria produce Pd nanoparticles and made the process much easier by changing the bacteria to function aerobically. In 2020 they will be looking for partners within industry who can identify new applications for their research.

The Technology Transfer Office at UiO, Inven2, and a researcher in Trondheim studying RRI are advising the BEDPAN team to responsibly conduct private research toward societal needs while also understanding industry needs and securing patents.

BEDPAN is headed by Dirk Linke at the Section for Genetics and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Oslo. This project is funded by a Research Council of Norway BIOTEK 2021 grant and an Innovation PhD grant from the Faculty of Mathematics at UiO. It is one of the multidisciplinary research projects within Centre for Digital Life Norway.

By Matthew Davidson