Research Opportunities

Cosmas - Chemical Engineer, Catalysts & Nanomaterials

SBIR Award Title

STTR Phase II: A Simple and Innovative Approach to the Synthesis of Metal, Alloy, Metal Oxide, and Mixed-Metal Oxide Nanoparticles

SBIR Award Abstract

This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II project aims to develop a manufacturing process to synthesize metal oxide, sulfide and other nanoparticles. The subject method simply involves mixing of common dry chemical starting materials and heating the resulting precursor material to a modest temperature. The objective is to demonstrate feasibility and scalability of this low-cost manufacturing process. Methods of dispersing aggregated particles in aqueous and polar solvents will be also be investigated. ... more

Research Opportunity

Chemical Engineer, Catalysts & Nanomaterials


1431 Oakcrest Ln.


Lynn Astle

Principal Investigator

Lynn Astle


Cosmas, Inc. is a start-up company commercializing a very simple solid state process for producing small, uniform metal oxide nanoparticles developed at Brigham Young University. The company is working closely with the faculty at BYU and some work will be performed on equipment at the university.
Particles can be made from any transition metal or rare earth or any number of these metals in exact ratios to form mixed-metal oxide nanoparticles. The laboratory scale process is well characterized and is now being scaled up to the pilot plant level. The focus of the company is applying this nanomaterials technology to the fields of catalysts and catalyst supports. Cosmas is initially focusing on two potential commercial products. The first is Fisher-Tropsch (FT) catalysts for producing liquid fuels from biomass and coal gases. Cosmas has joined three other companies wich are producing anaerobic digesters, gas conditioning and FT equipment & systems respectively. the Cosmas staff includes Dr. Calvin Barhholomew, an internationally known FT catalyst expert who will head the project. The second field of emphasis is high surface area, thermally stable alumina catalyst supports. The subject method produces much smaller pores (3nm)than any commercial product with very tight pore size distributions and the pore pore size can be controlled from 3 to 33nm to produce catalyst supports customized for any given catalyst applicaition.
The research project will involve scaling up the process to pilot plant levels of production. Bench research is at the 10-20g scale and a prototype 1kg/batch reactor has been validated. However, the objective is to develop a continuous flow process. Empahsis will be placed on not only making nanoparticles, but on controlling the secondary structure of agglomerates for the catalytic applications. Characteristics such as surface area, pore size, pore size distribution, pore volume must be optimized and catalyst materials will also be evaluated for hydrogen chemisorption to determine the number of active catalytic sites and ultimately catalytic activity.
Secondary levels of effort also concern nanoparticle dispersion and suspension stabilization, and enviornmental issues associated with the manufacturing process. (The byproducts are released as gases leaving very pure nanoparticle products. But, these gases must be trapped and processed appropriately.)

Desired Knowledge

The candidate should have a doctoral degree in chemical engineering.

Desired experience is in catalyst preparation and characterization. Skills with inorganic chemical anlaysis including XRD, TGA/DTA, BET, chemisorption, etc are also desired.

The project is to transfer a laboratory scale processes to pilot plant production scale. This will involve developing the process concept, designing the appropriate equipment and process controls and implementing the design. The primary project is to develop production capability of a novel solid state synthesis of Fe Fisher-Tropsch catalysts. Cosmas has a unique opportuity to commercialize an extremely simple process of producing such catalysts and applying it in the growing field of biomass to liquid fuels. Cosmas is in an alliance with three other companies in the fields of anaerobic digestion of animal and human waste to produce methane, conditioning the gas to remove hydrogen disulfide and other contaminants, and development of a modular Fisher-Tropsch system & equipment respectively.