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Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

The Development of a Waste-Degrading Catalyst Based on the Metalloenzyme Nitrile Hydratase

EPA Grant Number: U915948
Title: The Development of a Waste-Degrading Catalyst Based on the Metalloenzyme Nitrile Hydratase
Investigators: Shearer, Jason M.
Institution: University of Washington
EPA Project Officer: Jones, Brandon
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2002
Project Amount: $89,750
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001)
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Engineering and Environmental Chemistry , Fellowship - Chemistry and Materials Science



The objective of this research project is to develop a waste-degrading catalyst based on the metalloenzyme nitrile hydratase (NHase).


NHase is a nonheme iron (or noncorrin cobalt)-containing metalloenzyme that converts nitriles into amides. It contains a mononuclear metal in its active site that is ligated by two amide nitrogens (from the peptide backbone), cysteinate sulfurs, and water (or hydroxide in the active form) or NO (in the active form). Although two crystal structures for the enzyme have been published thus far, much remains unknown about how the enzyme functions. To answer some of the questions pertaining to the mechanism, spectroscopic properties, and structure, we have prepared several cobalt and iron complexes in mixed-sulfur/nitrogen ligand environments. It is our hope that these models will provide insight into how an effective nitrile-degrading catalyst can be produced. Such a catalyst will be useful in the degradation of hazardous industrial nitrile waste.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, waste-degrading catalyst, nitrile hydratase, NHase, enzyme, enzyme structure, ligand, amides, nitriles, nitrile waste, cobalt complex, iron complex.

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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