Biogenic platinum and palladium nanoparticles as new catalysts for the removal of pharmaceutical compounds

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Pharmaceutical products (PhP) are one of the most alarming emergent pollutants in the environment. Therefore, it is of extreme importance to investigate efficient PhP removal processes. Biologic synthesis of platinum nanoparticles (Bio-Pt) has been reported, but their catalytic activity was never investigated. In this work, we explored the potential of cell-supported platinum (Bio-Pt) and palladium (Bio-Pd) nanoparticles synthesized with Desulfovibrio vulgaris as biocatalysts for removal of four PhP: ciprofloxacin, sulfamethoxazole, ibuprofen and 17β-estradiol. The catalytic activity of the biological nanoparticles was compared with the PhP removal efficiency of D. vulgaris whole-cells. In contrast with Bio-Pd, Bio-Pt has a high catalytic activity in PhP removal, with 94, 85 and 70% removal of 17β-estradiol, sulfamethoxazole and ciprofloxacin, respectively. In addition, the estrogenic activity of 17β-estradiol was strongly reduced after the reaction with Bio-Pt, showing that this biocatalyst produces less toxic effluents. Bio-Pt or Bio-Pd did not act on ibuprofen, but this could be completely removed by D. vulgaris whole-cells, demonstrating that sulfate-reducing bacteria are among the microorganisms capable of biotransformation of ibuprofen in anaerobic environments. This study demonstrates for the first time that Bio-Pt has a high catalytic activity, and is a promising catalyst to be used in water treatment processes for the removal of antibiotics and endocrine disrupting compounds, the most problematic PhP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-168
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Biogenic nanoparticles
  • Desulfovibrio
  • Pharmaceutical compounds
  • Platinum
  • Reductive catalysis


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