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Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

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Applied Catalysis A, General

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Review Article

The utilisation of wool as a catalyst and as a support for catalysts MARK

Steven J. McNeil , Matthew R. Sunderland, Samuel J. Leighs
Textile Science and Technology Team, Food & Bio-Based Products Group, AgResearch Limited, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand


Keywords: Textiles are an emerging class of support material for catalysts, and are available in many dierent structures at a
Wool modest cost from a well-established industry. This review discusses 87 studies of wool and reconstituted wool as
Supported catalysts catalysts, and supports for catalysts, along with informative complementary studies.
Metallic catalysts The catalytic properties of wool itself were investigated in two studies, and it was shown to be an eective
Biological catalysts
solid sulphonic acid catalyst. A wide variety of catalysts have been applied to wool, i.e. metal complexes, metal
Organic catalysts
oxides, metallic particles, enzymes, microbes and small organic molecules. Wool supported catalysts generally
Solid sulphonic acid catalysts
showed good activity, specicity, durability, and re-usability and this is attributable to the amino acid
composition of wool enabling a wide range of protocols for attaching catalysts. Reconstituted wool is an
eective support for enzyme, metal oxide and organic photoactive catalysts and its low toxicity towards cells
makes it a promising support for phototherapy catalysts.
This review has shown the wide breadth of research that has been undertaken on wool catalysts and wool-
supported catalysts and many interesting developments will be made in the future. For instance, hair and
feathers have been used as templates for preparing highly structured materials that may prove eective as
catalysts, and wool warrants investigation in this area. Other areas of particular interest for the future are wool
sulphonic acid catalysts, and supporting organic molecules onto wool to prepare synthetic enzymes.

1. Introduction There is growing interest in supporting catalysts on materials that

contribute to the activity, specicity and environmental sustainability
Heterogeneous catalysts, where the supported catalyst is in a of the overall catalysis system. Textiles are an emerging class of support
dierent phase to at least one of the reactants, have many advantages material for catalysts, and are available in a wide range of structures at
compared to homogeneous catalysts. Perhaps the most important a modest cost from a well-established industry. A wide variety of
advantages of heterogeneous catalysts is their ready separation from materials are used to support catalysts including oxides of silica and
reactants and products, thereby lowering the risk of the catalysts aluminium [1,2], active carbon [3] and polymers [4,5]. The structuring
contaminating the reaction products, as well as giving easier reuse of of supported catalysts oers the potential for high mass transfer, low
the catalysts. Supported catalysts often show improved stability, pressure drop, high mechanical and chemical stability, along with
durability, and ease of handling, in comparison to solution and predictable scale-up, and for these reasons is increasingly being
powdered catalysts, and facilitate continuous (as opposed to batch) investigated as an alternative to random packing [6]. Supported
processes. Catalysts targeting dierent reactions can be attached onto a catalysts are often complex combinations of components such as the
single support to be used in processes with multiple reaction steps. catalytic material itself, support materials, and binding additives, and
Catalysts can be applied to support materials by two types of can dier considerably in their structure, performance and application
processes: physisorption and chemisorption. Physisorption can be [7]. The selection of catalysts and their support structures will often be
employed with catalysts that are able to form Van der Waals interac- decided by weighing-up parameters such as activity, stability and
tions with the support, and such interactions have the advantage of not overall cost eectiveness [8]. Textiles are a promising catalyst support
altering the chemical structure of the catalyst. The other application material due to the diversity of structures available, their low cost, and
process, chemisorption, leads to stronger bond formation between the ease of coating with catalytic materials compared to some other support
catalyst and support material than physisorption, but it does carry with materials [9]. Wire meshes [10], carbon nanobres [11,12], and many
it a greater risk of the catalyst being modied and therefore possibly other textile bre supports have been investigated, including polyacry-
losing ecacy. lonitrile, carbon, polypropylene, polytetrauroethylene, cotton and

Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (S.J. McNeil).
Received 20 January 2017; Received in revised form 10 April 2017; Accepted 28 April 2017
Available online 07 May 2017
0926-860X/ 2017 Published by Elsevier B.V.
S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

variety of chemical functionalities to wool [36,37] and are important

for the attachment of catalytic materials as will be discussed in this
review. The terminal carboxyl and amine groups also contribute some
functionality. Table 1 includes the amino acid composition of the
outermost part of the bre, the cuticle, as this has the greatest
interaction with materials such as catalysts that are applied to the
surface of the bre. The hydrophobicity of the wool surface is largely
caused by covalently bound lipids, rather than hydrophobic amino acid
residues [38].
Amino acids and peptides have been used as catalysts, which was
the subject of a review by Jarvo et al. [39]. For example, proline has
been used for various aldol reactions, while poly-L-alanine has been
used in the epoxidation of chalcones. Short peptides containing
alkylated histidine residues have been investigated as catalysts for the
kinetic resolutions of secondary and tertiary alcohols [40]. Amino acids
have been combined with metal ions and used as catalysts. For instance,
the rubidium salt of (S)-proline has been used to catalyse the addition of
malonate to enones [41], and the addition of nitroalkanes to enones
Fig. 1. Scanning electron micrograph a wool bre. Catalysts are used in the manufacture of wool textiles including,
enzymes for depilation [43], bre modication [44], and euent
nylon [1321]. treatment [45]. Iron and copper catalyse the selective bleaching of
Wool is a long-established bre in apparel and interior textiles, but dark bres [46,47], and organometallic compounds speed-up the curing
it is perhaps less well known that wool is becoming increasingly used in of silicone softeners and resins [48].
technical applications [22]. This is driven by the desire for wool This review is concerned with the use of wool as a catalyst, and as a
producers to increase demand and value for their bre, and the support for catalysts. It will consider wool in its familiar brous form,
recognition of how wools properties [22,23], sustainability [24] and and in reconstituted (i.e. dissolved and then solidied) form, along with
biodegradability [25] make it well-suited for some technical applica- the possibility of using wool as a template for preparing catalysts. Some
tions. The most important technical applications of wool, at present, areas related to the main themes will be touched upon where they are
include building insulation [22], ltration [26,27] and the sorption of informative, including supporting catalysts on textile bres other than
pollutants, particularly indoor air pollutants [28,29], heavy metals wool, and the use of reconstituted non-wool proteins as supports for
[30,31], and hydrocarbons [32]. The utility of wool in technical catalysts.
applications can be enhanced by applying chemical nishes, such as
those used to enhance resistance to re, water, microbes and keratin- 2. Fibre and textile supports for catalysts
consuming insects [33,34].
A typical wool bre is shown in Fig. 1, which clearly illustrates the 2.1. Fibre properties
characteristic scale structure. The complex arrangement of the dierent
morphological components of wool bres has been well described in The length of wool bres ranges between 50 and 300 mm, depend-
various reviews [35,36]. Wool is predominately protein, the amino acid ing on the frequency of shearing and the rate of wool grown. For
composition of which varies to some extent between breeds of sheep comparison cotton bres range from 10 to 60 mm in length. The
and within the same breed, and a typical amino acid composition is diameter of wool bres varies between 17 and 60 m, compared to
given in Table 1. The side chains of the amino acids impart a wide 1222 for cotton. Made-made bres can be prepared in any desired
length and diameter. Some of the key properties of wool and other
bres are compared in Tables 2 and 3. The decomposition temperature
Table 1 of wool is near the middle of the range for polymer bres and wool is
The amino acid composition of clean wool (mole%).
certainly far less resistant to high temperatures than glass and steel
Amino acid Whole bre [36,37] Cuticle [49] Nature of side chain bres. Wool has the greatest equilibrium moisture content and a
relatively low tenacity and high breaking extension. During repeated
Alanine 5.3 5.8 Hydrocarbon extensions, as might be experienced by bres in a catalyst that is
Glycine 8.3 8.2 Hydrocarbon
Isoleucine 3.1 2.7 Hydrocarbon
subjected to intermittent uid ow, wool showed more creep than
Leucine 7.7 6.1 Hydrocarbon nylon, but less than viscose rayon (Table 3). Cotton and acetate bres
Phenylalanine 2.9 1.7 Hydrocarbon did not withstand the 1000 cyclic extensions applied during creep
Valine 5.5 7.5 Hydrocarbon testing.
Serine 10.3 14.3 Polar
Wool does have certain limitations as a support for catalysts, some
Threonine 6.4 4.4 Polar
Tyrosine 4.0 2.8 Polar of which are shared by other organic polymer supports, such as only
Aspartic acida 6.4 3.5 Acidic modest resistance to heat, alkalis, reducing agents and oxidising agents
Glutamic acidb 11.9 8.7 Acidic [52]. As a proteinaceous material, albeit a highly crosslinked one, wool
Arginine 6.8 4.3 Basic is sensitive to long exposures to dry heat and sunlight, becoming
Histidine 0.9 0.8 Basic
Lysine 3.1 2.7 Basic
yellowed and losing mechanical strength. Wool is damaged by pro-
Cystinec 10.5 16.6 Sulphur containing longed exposure to boiling water due to hydrolysis of peptide bonds and
Methionine 0.5 0.3 Sulphur containing crosslinks. This hydrolysis is more rapid in the presence of acid and
Proline 5.9 10.5 Heterocyclic alkalis. Wool is less sensitive to acids than alkalis, and will not be
Tryptophan 0.5 Heterocyclic
signicantly damaged by the acidic conditions that would cause cotton
Includes asparagine.
to dissolve. In fact wool is generally dyed under acidic conditions (pH
Includes glutamine residues. 26) with sulphuric, formic or acetic acids, and this typically involves
Includes the oxidation by-product of cystine, cysteic acid. from one half, to two hours at 98 C. Wool does however, possess

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Table 2
Important properties of bres [50,51].

Melting/decomposition Moisture content Transverse area Tenacity (N/ Breaking extension Work of rupture Initial modulus (N/
point (C) (%)a swelling (%) tex)b (%) (mN/tex) tex)

Wool 225 1622 26 0.110.12 3043 2731 2.33.0

Cotton 150 89 40 0.190.45 5.66.8 5.114.9 3.97.3
Jute 150 14 40 0.31 1.8 2.7 17
Viscose rayon 175205 1416 50114 0.180.27 1627 1931 4.86.5
Nylon 6.6 225260 4.3 1.63.2 0.37 43 101 1.0
Polyester 254260 0.4 0 0.47 37 119 8.8
Polyacrylonitrile 250 12 0.27 25 47 6.2
Polypropylene 160175 0 0 0.65 17 71 7.1
Glass bre 8461056 0 0 0.40.8 1.92.5 3.99.8 2129
Steel wire 1500 0 0 0.26 8.0 18 29

Moisture at 20 C, 65% relative humidity.
Tex mass in grams per 1000 m.

Table 3 constructions and bre surface coatings, a range of pore and void sizes
Creep behaviour of bres: Cumulative extension (%) after cyclic extensions of 2% [53]. can be achieved. This enables good mass transfer characteristics with
pressure drops comparable to those of monolithic catalysts, as well as
100 extensions 1000 extensions
eliminating diusion as a rate-controlling factor in liquid-phase reac-
Wool 5.1 9.2 tions [54]. The structural design of textiles can also be optimised for
Cotton 5.2 Breaks maintaining catalytic eciencies and allowing for mechanical cleaning
Viscose rayon 11.7 16.0
and handling that can prove dicult with powder and granulated
Nylon 1.0 1.4
Acetate 18.5 Breaks
catalysts. An informative comparison of brous catalysts with powder
and monolithic catalysts has been published [54].
As an example, fabrics of cotton and nylon were chosen as supports
excellent resistance many organic solvents [52]. in a study of immobilised enzymes because of their low-cost, high
enzyme load, high relative activity and good resistance against enzyme
desorption [20]. The researchers noted, The exible construction of
2.2. Textile structures
fabrics enables reactor constructions of any geometry. Their open
structure guarantees an optimal substrate turn-over and the active surface
Fibres can be processed into a wide range of textile structures by
are easily adjustable by the bre diameter.
well-established processes. Textiles oer exibility in structure, as they
An important property of textile structures with regard to support-
can be formed into yarns, fabrics and mats that can be designed,
ing catalysts is their surface area per unit mass. Textile bres typically
manipulated, and packed into a wide range of geometries (see Fig. 2).
have surface areas of between 0.3 and 1.0 m2 per g [55], and most
With a choice of bre diameters between 13 and 45 m [35], textile

Fig. 2. Wool bres arranged in various textile structures, from top left, roving, singles yarn, knitted fabric, needle punched fabric, woven fabric and carpet. Scale bars represents 1 mm.

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

textile structures are of low enough density that the bre surfaces are potassium permanganate then sodium sulphite and the preparation of
not signicantly obstructed. A report into the catalytic degradation of the wool supported iron oxide is described in Section 4.2. The two
dyes and phenols in aqueous solutions noted that an important catalysts gave good yields of products and exhibited excellent recycl-
advantage of textile catalysts and their brous composition, is the ability over four uses. Iron oxide-wool gave a faster reaction and greater
ready access of reacting substances to the reactive outer surface of the yields than wool-SO3H, i.e. the yields ranged from 18 to 24% for wool-
bres [56]. SO3H, and from 90 to 94% for iron oxide-wool.
When selecting a support material, the ease of applying the catalyst
is an important consideration. It has been reported that the application 4. Wool bres as supports for metallic catalysts
of catalysts to textile supports is facilitated by the capillary action of
textiles allowing for uniform wetting with catalyst agent before Many types of wool-supported metallic catalysts have been inves-
immobilisation, and creating a microuidic environment which in- tigated. Complexed metal catalysts are a well-studied type of catalyst on
creased the eective concentration of catalyst [57]. wool, and will be discussed in Section 4.1. Five studies of particulate
An interesting application of textile-supported catalysts is in spin- metal-wool catalyst have been reported and these are discussed in
ning fabric disc reactors, as demonstrated for the hydrolysis of an Section 4.2. Metallic photocatalysts (typically metal oxides) are a
emulsied lipid by lipase supported on wool fabric [58]. This system particular type of metallic catalyst that has been the subject of more
was thought to give good performance due to the enzyme being investigations than any other type of catalyst on wool, hence, for
protected from shear-based deactivation, the sieving action of the clarity, they will be discussed separately from other types of metal-wool
fabric reducing the size of the lipid droplets, and the high liquid catalysts (see Section 4.3). The various studies are summarised in
hold-up in the wool fabric resulting in increased contact time between Table 5 at the end of this section.
the lipid and enzyme. Increasing the number of layers of fabric in the
reactor increased the eective enzyme loading per liquid pass through 4.1. Complexed metallic catalysts
the reactor and thereby increased the conversion [59], (see Section
5.1.2 for details). Many studies have been made into metal-wool complex catalysts,
due to wool being a good absorber of most metal ions. The nitrogen,
sulphur and oxygen atoms in wool coordinate with ions of many
3. Wool catalysts dierent metals to form metal-wool complexes that are capable of
catalysing a wide variety of reactions.
The two published studies of wool catalysts are summarised in
Table 4. Wool powder has been used as a catalyst for the nitroaldol 4.1.1. Palladium
(Henry) reaction between aromatic and heteroaromatic aldehydes and Palladium-wool is the most widely studied of all complexed metal-
nitromethane, to form beta-nitroalcohols [60], see Fig. 3. The wool wool catalysts, due, in part, to palladiums versatility and lower cost
powder was purchased from a chemical supply company, and the only than other noble metals. Most studies with palladium-wool complex
details provided are that it was keratin powder from wool, so it is not catalysts were concerned with hydrogenation reactions, and all re-
known if the powder was prepared from wool by physical or chemical ported that the complex was reuseable. For instance, a palladium-wool
means or by a combination. The wool powder was used as received, complex was synthesized as a catalyst for the hydrogenation of the
without the researchers applying any modications or application of aliphatic aldehydes: propionaldehyde, butyraldehyde, valeraldehyde,
catalysts. Wool powder was judged to be an eective catalyst, and it and hexanal, to the corresponding primary alcohols. The mild reaction
could be recovered from the products and reused, albeit with some conditions contributed to the catalyst maintaining stability for over
deterioration in performance. In comparison with other biomaterial 50 h of reaction [67].
catalysts, the wool keratin performed as well as calcium alginate, but A palladium-wool complex was prepared by reacting wool with
worse than gelatine, broin and chitosan. palladium chloride in ethanol [68], and a possible structure of part of
Solid acid catalysts are attracting interest as alternatives to liquid this complex, as proposed by the authors of this review, is shown in
acids [61]. Sulphonated solid acid catalysts are applicable to several Fig. 5, where M represents palladium chloride. This complex was
types of reaction [62] and some brous ones, such as polypropylene, found to catalyse the asymmetric hydration of 1-octene to (S)-(+)-2-
have been investigated [63,64]. The disulphide (SS) crosslinks in wool octanol, and 1-decene to (R)-(+)-2-decanol at 70 C under 1 atmo-
can be oxidised to sulphonic acid (SO3H) groups [65]. Compared to sphere of nitrogen. The yields were greatly aected by the palladium
other solid sulphonic acids, oxidised wool has the advantages of a content of the complex and the reaction time. At the optimum
relatively high level of sulphonic acid groups and more straightforward conditions (S)-(+)-2-octanol and (R)-(+)-2-decanol were produced in
and environmentally sustainable preparation [62], see Fig. 4. The yields close to 80%. The palladium-wool complex catalyst was straight-
performance of wool-SO3H catalyst was compared to wool supported forward to prepare and could be reused several times without an
iron oxide nanoparticles in the synthesis of polyfunctional heterocyclic appreciable change in catalytic activity. The production of high
compounds [66]. Wool-SO3H was prepared by treating wool with molecular weight alcohols such as octanol and decanol is carried out
on a large scale with Ziegler-Natta catalysts, demonstrating that the
Table 4 palladium-wool catalyst has a clear commercial application.
Summary of wool catalysts. Further work using a similarly-prepared palladium-wool complex
Reactants Product Reference
has found that it was able to catalyse the asymmetric hydrogenation of
diacetone alcohol to (R)-2-methyl-2,4-pentanediol, and 3-methyl-2-
Wool powder Aromatic/heteroaromatic Beta-nitroalcohols [60] butanone to (R)-3-methyl-2-butanol at 30 C and 1 atmosphere of
aldehydes, nitromethane hydrogen [69]. The yields were greatly aected by the palladium
Wool- Carbonyl compound, Polyfunctional [66]
sulphonic diamine, isocyanide e.g. heterocyclic
contents of the complex, and using optimum palladium content, (R)-2-
acid acetone, 2,3- compounds, e.g. 2,3- methyl-2,4-pentanediol and (R)-3-methyl-2-butanol could be obtained
diaminomaleonitrile, dicyano-N-cyclohexyl- in yields of 73% and 100% respectively. The simple preparation and
cyclohexyl isocyanide 5,7,7-trimethyl- reusability were seen as positive features of this catalyst and the very
high chiral specicity of this process could be expected to lead to
carboxamide specialised applications.
The preparation and evaluation of a palladium-wool complex was

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Fig. 3. Wool catalysed nitroaldol (Henry) reaction in water and tetrabutylammonium bromide [60].

reported in another study which found it to be an ecient catalyst for acid (i.e. the Suzuki reaction) [74]. The results of this study showed
the asymmetric hydration of ortho- and para-substituted styrenes to that the reactions could be conducted in water under atmospheric
benzyl-alcohols, with high enantioselectivity under mild conditions conditions with water-insoluble or even solid aryl halides. The products
[70]. The chemical and optical yields of the benzyl-alcohol products could be obtained from the reaction mixtures by simple ltration. This
were aected by various parameters, such as the palladium content in catalyst system had excellent yields (over 90% in many cases), was
wool, reaction time, and temperature. The highest chemical yields environmental friendly, and the catalyst could be reused.
achieved were around 90%. Re-using the catalyst several times did not A palladium-wool catalyst has been used for several Liebeskind-
signicantly change the chemical or optical yields of the products. The Srogl desulphurative cross-coupling reactions [75]. The catalyst was
mild reaction conditions and high stability of the catalyst were seen as prepared by treating wool with a solution of palladium(II) acetate, and
attractive qualities for industrial processes, suggesting potential large- gave yields of up to 91% in three-component coupling of thioether
scale use. This palladium-wool complex also catalysed the hydration of derivatives to terminal alkynes and aryl boronic acids. The palladium-
styrene, 2-cyclohexen-1-one and 5-hexen-2-one to -methylbenzyl wool complex could be reused at least nine times, which reduced the
alcohol, 3-hydroxy-cyclohexanone and 5-hydroxy-2-hexanone respec- level of palladium in the catalyst from 1.6% to 1.4% (by mass),
tively, using mild conditions of temperature and pressure [71]. The suggesting there was minimal contamination of the reaction phase.
reaction yields were 82%, 92% and 99% respectively, and were greatly This palladium-wool catalyst has also been used for carboncarbon
aected by the palladium content in the complex, the ratio of substrate cross-coupling reactions involving the cleavage of disulphide bonds.
to catalyst, the reaction temperature and the choice of solvent. The Yields up to 88% were achieved and there was negligible leaching of
catalyst was very stable and reusable without any loss of catalytic palladium during ten uses.
activity. A palladium-wool catalyst was prepared and applied in the oxida-
A palladium-wool complex was prepared by subjecting wool to an tion of alcohol under optimised conditions, and several parameters such
oxidising pre-treatment, followed by immersion in an aqueous palla- as the amount of catalyst, base, reaction temperature, and reaction time
dium chloride solution [72,73]. The resulting palladium-wool complex were investigated [76]. It was found that 35 mg of palladium-wool
was used in water-mediated coupling reactions of aryl halides with catalysed the oxidation of 0.2 mmol of alcohol to the corresponding
alkenes and the oxidation of alcohols. A possible structure for this aldehyde or ketone when using water as reaction medium. The catalyst
complex is shown in Fig. 5, which illustrates some of the dierent types demonstrated good reusability in this reaction system. The oxidation of
of metal-wool binding. The studies found that aryl bromides could be alcohol is used in specialised or small-scale organic synthetic produc-
coupled to a variety of alkenes at 80 C, in aqueous media under tion of ketones, with the dominant method utilising oxidation of
atmospheric pressure, with yields of over 90%. The palladium-wool hydrocarbons, the industrial potential for these new methods is large,
catalyst was found to be stable and low-cost, with negligible leaching of with acetone being produced in large amounts worldwide.
palladium. Activity was retained for at least ten successive experimen-
tal runs, without the need for any additional activation treatment. This
4.1.2. Platinum
approach was seen as a practical method of catalysing the important
A platinum-wool complex was prepared by the reaction of wool
Heck reaction, which is used to produce a wide variety of products that
with chloroplatinic acid in ethanol, and was found to be an eective
are useful in organic chemistry.
chiral catalyst for the asymmetric hydrogenation of some ketones to the
The palladium-wool complex prepared as specied in the preceding
corresponding chiral alcohols at 30 C under 1 atmosphere of hydrogen
paragraph has also been used as a catalyst for the water-mediated
[77]. Examples given were 3-methyl-2-butanone to (R)-3-methyl-2-
coupling reactions of aryl iodides and aryl bromides with arylboronic
butanol, 4-methyl-2-pentanone to (R)-4-methyl-2-pentanol, acetophe-

Fig. 4. Sulphonation of wool showing reaction of disulphide bonds and thioester. NB that thioester and ester are only present of the surface of wool [38].

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Table 5
Summary of metallic-wool catalyst systems that have been studied.

Type of catalyst/metal Reaction/reactant Product Reference(s)

Metal complex
Palladium Hydrogenation. Primary alcohols [67]
Aliphatic aldehydes
Hydrogenation. Octanol [68]
Octene Decanol
Hydrogenation. (R)-2-Methyl-2,4-pentanediol [69]
Diacetone alcohol (R)-3-Methyl-2-butanol
Hydrogenation. Benzyl alcohols [70]
o- & p-substituted styrenes
Hydrogenation. -Methylbenzyl alcohol, [71]
Styrene 3-Hydroxy-cyclohexanone
2-Cyclohexen-1-one 5-Hydroxy-2-hexanone
Coupling aryl halides to alkenes Various coupling products [72]
Oxidation of alcohols Aldehydes, ketones [73]
Coupling of aryl halides to aryl boronic acids Biphenyls [74]
Coupling pyrimidin-yl thioether derivatives, Various coupling products [75]
alkynes and aryl boronic acids.
Oxidation of alcohols Aldehydes, ketones [76]
Platinum Asymmetric hydrogenation of ketones Chiral alcohols [77]
Palladium-cobalt Asymmetric hydration of unsaturated -hydroxycarboxylic acids [78]
carboxylic acids
Iron-palladium Hydrogenation. Chloroanilines [79]
Chloro-nitro benzenes Chlorobenzyl alcohols
Chloro-benzyl aldehydes
Iron-palladium Hydration. 1-Bromo-2-propanol [80]
Allyl bromide 1-Chloro-2-propanol
Allyl chloride 1-Amino-2-propanol
Allylamine Lactonitrile
Acrylonitrile Cyclohexanol
Rhodium Hydrogenation. (S)-(+)-2-Methyltetrahydrofuran [81]
Osmium Asymmetric dihydroxylation. (R)-(+)-3-Amino-1,2-propanediol [82]
Allylamine (3-aminopropene) (S)-(+)-3-Chloro-1,2-propanediol
Allyl chloride
Copper Oxidation of L-ascorbic acid and D-isoascorbic Dehydroascorbic acid, dehydroisoascorbic acid, hydrogen [83]
acid peroxide
Iron and cobalt phthalocyanines Oxidation. Dimethyl disulphide [84]
Methanthiol Dihydrogen disulphide
Hydrogen sulphide
Cobalt, copper, iron tetrasulpho- Alkylarenes Ketones [85]
phthalocyanines Alcohols Aldehydes and ketones

Metallic particulate
Manganese dioxide Oxidation of alkyl arenes, alcohols and Carbonyl and sulphoxide compounds [88]
Manganese dioxide Oxidation and addition. -amino amides, [89]
Toluene/xylene, aromatic amines, 3,4-dihydroquinoxalin-2-amine, 4H-benzo[b][1,4]thiazin-2-
cyclohexyl isocyanide amine, cyanophenylamino-acetamide derivatives
Cobalt, manganese, zinc and Toluene/xylene, phenylenediamine Imidazole derivatives [90]
chromium ferrites Toluene/xylene, aminobenzamide Quinazoline derivatives
Toluene/xylene, phenylenediamine, Quinoxaline derivatives
cyclohexyl isocyanide
Iron oxide Carbonyl compound, diamine, isocyanide Polyfunctional heterocyclic compounds, e.g. 2,3-dicyano-N- [66]
e.g. acetone, 2,3-diaminomaleonitrile, cyclohexyl-5,7,7-trimethyl-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-1H-1,4-diazepine-5-
cyclohexyl isocyanide carboxamide
Gold chloride Methanol, 3-hexyne 4-Methoxy, hex-3-en-3,4-dimethoxy hexane [91]

Metallic photocatalysta
Titania Stains on textiles, dyes in waste water Colourless compounds [99102,108,109,120]
Titania Live bacteria Inactive bacteria [95,103]
Titania Water (light induced wettability) Hydroxyl radicals, super oxide anions [106,107]
Titania/graphene Dye on textile Colourless compounds [113]
Zirconia Dyes in solution Colourless compounds [119,120]
Zinc oxide Dyes in solution Colourless compounds [121]
Zinc oxide Dyes and food stains on textiles Colourless compounds [122]
Zinc oxide Dye on textile Colourless compounds [123]
Nitrogen-doped zinc oxide/ Dye on textile Colourless compounds [124]
nitrogen-doped titania
Palladium, palladium sulphide and Dyes in solution Colourless compounds [125]
cadmium sulphide
Palladium, palladium sulphide, Water Hydrogen, oxygen [126]
(continued on next page)

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Table 5 (continued)

Type of catalyst/metal Reaction/reactant Product Reference(s)

cadmium sulphide
Iron Textile dyes in solution Colourless compounds [127129]

Only a small selection of the many studies of titania-wool are included.

none to (R)-1-phenylethanol and propiophenone to (R)-1-phenyl-1- chloro group.

propanol. In the case of hydrogenation of 3-methyl-2-butanone to (R)-3- The iron-palladium-wool complex was also the subject of a study, in
methyl-2-butanol, when a suitable content of platinum in the wool was which it was prepared from wool, palladium chloride and iron chloride
selected, the total yield and yield of the desired optical isomer in ethanol [80]. This complex, as proposed in Fig. 5, was found to be a
amounted to about 100%, and the platinum-wool catalyst could be highly active catalyst for the hydration of some alkenes to the
reused without any change in the optical catalytic activity. The corresponding alcohols. Examples given were allyl bromide to 1-
platinum-wool catalyst was seen as a relatively cheap, easy to prepare, bromo-2-propanol, allyl chloride to 1-chloro-2-propanol, allylamine to
active, enantioselective, and stable chiral catalyst for the asymmetric 1-amino-2-propanol, acrylonitrile to lactonitrile and cyclohexene to
hydrogenation of ketones. cyclohexanol, with yields of 95%, 88%, 91%, 75% and 98% respec-
tively. These reactions were all performed in the presence of water,
4.1.3. Palladium-cobalt butyl ether and phenol at 95 C under 1 atmosphere of nitrogen. The
A heterobimetallic palladium-cobalt-wool complex was prepared yields were greatly aected by the ratio of palladium to iron, and the
using palladium chloride, cobalt chloride and wool in ethanol [78]. catalyst was very stable and could be reused several times without a
This was found to be an ecient catalyst for the asymmetric hydration signicant loss of activity.
of unsaturated carboxylic acids with high enantioselectivity via a
simple process under mild conditions. Chemical and optical yields were 4.1.5. Rhodium
aected by parameters such as the combined level of palladium and A rhodium-wool complex was prepared by the reaction of wool with
cobalt on the wool, the ratio of palladium to cobalt, the reaction time rhodium chloride in ethanol, and was found to be an eective chiral
and temperature, and the amount of water. After using the catalyst ve catalyst for the asymmetric hydrogenation of 2-methylfuran to (S)-
times, the chemical and optical yields of the products showed no (+)-2-methyltetrahydrofuran at 28 C under 1 atmosphere of hydrogen
signicant changes, thus demonstrating the stability of the complex. [81]. Depending on the rhodium content in the rhodium-wool complex,
The methods used provided a novel way to produce chiral -hydro- the yield and optical yield were as high as 54% and 77%, respectively.
xycarboxylic acids. Fig. 5 represents a possible structure of the complex, The researchers noted that the rhodium-wool complex was a stable,
where M represents a combination of palladium chloride and cobalt inexpensive and easy-to-prepare catalyst.
4.1.6. Osmium
4.1.4. Iron-palladium A chiral osmium-wool complex was prepared by reacting wool with
Complexes of iron-palladium-wool have been synthesised and their osmium tetroxide in tert-butanol [82]. This complex was shown to
catalytic performances compared with those of a palladium-wool catalyse the asymmetric dihydroxylation of allylamine (3-aminopro-
complex. Of these two complexes, iron-palladium-wool showed the pene) to (R)-(+)-3-amino-1,2-propanediol, and allyl chloride to (S)-
greater catalytic activity and selectivity for the hydrogenation of (+)-3-chloro-1,2-propanediol. The optical yields were 84% and 57%,
chloro-nitro benzenes and chloro-benzyl aldehydes to chloroanilines and the product yields were 80% and 69% respectively. The osmium
and chlorobenzyl alcohols respectively at room temperature and atmo- tetroxide content in the complex, reaction time, ratio of allylamine to
spheric pressure [79]. The ratio of palladium to iron had a signicant osmium tetroxide, and solvent, all eected the product and optical
eect on the selective hydrogenation of the substrates, at an optimum yields. The osmium tetroxide-wool complex catalyst could be reused
ratio of palladium to iron of 13, chloroanilines were obtained at 100% without any signicant change in optical catalytic activity.
yield, and no unwanted hydrogenolysis (dechlorination) occurred.
When the molar ratio of palladium to iron in the complex was 15 to 4.1.7. Copper
1, this wool complex could catalyse the hydrogenation of chlorobenzyl To prepare a copper-wool complex catalyst, wool was rst acidied
aldehydes to chlorobenzyl alcohols without hydrogenolysis of the with acetic acid (to increase the uptake of copper ions), then treated

Fig. 5. The possible structure of metal-wool complex (M = metal salt) as proposed by the current authors.

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

with copper nitrate solution at pH 5.9 for 48 h at room temperature molecules, thus contributing to their ecacy as catalysts [86,87]. The
with occasional shaking [83]. The resulting catalyst contained 0.9% direct utilisation of metal nanoparticles as catalysts is often dicult,
copper by mass. The catalytic action of the copper-wool complex in the due to the tendency for agglomeration caused by van der Waals forces.
oxidation of L-ascorbic acid and D-isoascorbic acid was studied and Supporting matrices serve to minimise aggregation of the nanoparticles,
showed oxidation at pH 8 and above. The catalyst exhibited Michaelis- and provide the desired interface between the nanoparticles and the
Menten behaviour as an oxidase-like catalyst, and was able to be reused reaction media, as well as facilitating the synthesis and reuse of the
ve times without losing activity. catalysts. Five studies on wool supported nanoparticle catalysts have
been reported [66,8891].
A range of oxidation reactions have been studied with nanoparticles
4.1.8. Metallophthalocyanine complexes of various metals
of manganese dioxide supported by wool [88]. The catalyst was
The catalytic activities of metallophthalocyanine complexes have
prepared by the straightforward process of treating wool with potas-
been widely studied because they are inexpensive and straightforward
sium permanganate solution. The wool had a chemical involvement in
to prepare on a large scale, and are chemically and thermally stable.
the process as it reduced the MnO4 ions to MnO2 nanoparticles. The
Various support materials have been investigated, such as charcoal,
manganese dioxide-wool catalyst was evaluated for the aerobic oxida-
organic polymers, and zeolites, but wool bres have the advantages of
tion of alkyl arenes, alcohols and sulphides, to carbonyl and sulphoxide
being easier to handle, able to be manipulated into a wide range of
compounds, with good results. For example, a range of 10 alkyl arenes
structures and amenable to chemical modication by well established
were oxidised to aldehydes and ketones and in each case the yields were
techniques [84].
89% and above, and there was no over-oxidation to carboxylic acids.
Wool that had been cationised with a salt of trimethyl epoxybutane
The activity of manganese dioxide on wool was comparable or slightly
ammonium has been rendered catalytic by treatment with solutions of
greater than its activity when supported on graphite, kieselguhr, silica
phthalocyanine iron(III) [84]. The resulting binuclear phthalocyanine
or cellulose, as assessed for the oxidation of benzyl alcohol.
iron(III)-wool complex contained 0.8% phthalocyanine iron(III) on
The manganese dioxide-wool catalyst described in the preceding
mass of wool (see Fig. 6). Phthalocyanine cobalt(II)-wool complex
paragraph has also been used for the Ugi-type reaction of aromatic
was prepared similarly using phthalocyanine cobalt(II) in place of
hydrocarbons [89]. The catalyst was active in both the oxidation and
phthalocyanine iron(III). The uptake of the metal complexes was
acidic/synthetic stages of the reaction. The catalyst proved durable,
around nine times higher on cationised wool than on untreated wool.
with negligible loss of activity after ve uses. The manganese dioxide-
The binuclear iron(III)-wool complex was used to decompose
wool catalyst gave a greater yield than the corresponding manganese
methanthiol and hydrogen sulphide at room temperature by catalytic
dioxide-cellulose catalyst for the acidic stage, but not for the oxidation
oxidation with atmospheric oxygen [84]. The phthalocyanine iron(III)-
stage of the reaction.
wool complex performed slightly better than the corresponding cobalt
Six types of transition metal ferrite nanoparticles were formed on
complex by removing around 90% of methanthiol and hydrogen
wool and used in tandem oxidative two-component reactions and Ugi-
sulphide in 180 min at 25 C. The methanthiol experiment was repeated
type three-component reactions, to prepare biologically active benzi-
ve times with the same sample of iron(III)-wool complex and it
midazole, quinazolinone and quinoxaline derivatives [90]. The wool
showed no reduction in oxidising capacity. The phthalocyanine cobalt
was rst oxidised with potassium permanganate and then the manga-
(II)-wool complex was almost as stable as the corresponding iron(III)-
nese dioxide formed in the wool was removed by reduction with sodium
wool complex.
sulphite. This converted some of the disulphide bonds into sulphonate
Wool has been used to support cobalt(II), copper(II) and iron(II)
groups, thus enhancing both the subsequent uptake of metal ions and
tetrasulphophthalocyanine catalysts for the aerobic oxidation of alkyl
the attachment of the nanoparticles. The wool was then treated in
arenes and alcohols (see Fig. 6) [85]. Wool and metal(II) trisul-
aqueous solutions of mixtures of iron(III) chloride, and chlorides of
phophthalocyanine sulphonyl chloride were reacted together to give
selected metals, to form wool supported CoFe2O4, MnFe2O4, ZnFe2O4,
covalent bonding. Supporting the metallophthalocyanines on wool
MnCoFe2O4, ZnCoFe2O4 and CrCoFeO4. The catalysts showed good
reduced aggregation of the complexes and thereby increased their
recyclability, with little loss of reactivity during four reuses. The best
activity. The catalysts were recyclable without the loss of activity. Of
results overall, were obtained with CrCoFeO4-wool. Preparing the
the three types of catalyst investigated, the one with cobalt was the
ferrite nanoparticles on wool prevented them aggregating/agglomerat-
most eective overall, followed by the copper, with the iron catalyst
ing into less active particles. The magnetic properties of these wool-
being the least eective for the reactions investigated.
supported catalysts is advantageous, as it helps their recovery from the
reaction products.
4.2. Particulate metallic catalysts Wool supported iron(II,III) oxide (Fe3O4) nanoparticles have been
prepared by treating wool with solutions of iron(II)/iron(III) chlorides
Metal nanoparticles have a high surface area-to-volume ratio and [66]. The wool supported iron oxide was paramagnetic and the
therefore a large fraction of the metal can be exposed to reactant

Fig. 6. The structures of phthalocyanine (left), tetrasulphophthalocyanine (centre) and iron (III), complex (right) as proposed by Yao et al. [84].

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

nanoparticles comprised 15% of the mass of the iron oxide-wool. This attention from researchers resulting in several hundred publications,
catalyst gave good yields of products in the synthesis of polyfunctional and only illustrative examples will be discussed here. The interested
heterocyclic compounds, and exhibited excellent recyclability over four reader may like to consult some excellent recent reviews of the subject
uses. The performance of this catalysts was compared to that of oxidised [94,95].
wool in Section 3. The solid-phase decomposition of coloured compounds on textiles is
Gold(I) chloride nanoparticles have been prepared on wool by known as self-cleaning. The decomposition of food stains such as coee,
suspending wool in acidic gold(III) chloride [91]. The mixture was tea, and fruit juice [99,100], and dyes such as methylene blue and Acid
shaken to develop the nanoparticles, and the pH was adjusted to 11.2 Blue 113 [99,101,102] have been studied on titania-wool. The radicals
using potassium hydroxide. The mixture was heated and shaken at that decompose stains are also capable of reacting with molecules in
50 C for seven days, before recovering the gold-wool by ltration and bacteria to such an extent that titania treated wool has signicant
washing with water and air-drying. The gold(I) chloride nanoparticles resistance to bacteria [103105]. Radicals on titania interact with
that were deposited onto the wool were found to be catalytically active molecules of liquid water more strongly than the hydrophobic surface
in the addition of methanol to 3-hexyne. Two unsupported molecular of wool, giving rise to light-induced wettability [106,107]. This
gold(I) chloride phosphine complexes performed similarly to each wettability is reversible, so that when the light source is removed, the
other, but the wool-supported gold chloride nanoparticles retained all hydrophobicity of the wool surface is restored.
activity after eight reaction cycles compared to only one or two for the Titania nanoparticles deposited onto wool decoloured an aqueous
phosphine complexes. solution of Direct Blue 78 dye after 6 h of illumination with ultraviolet
light [108]. Some of the dye had been adsorbed by the wool and a
4.3. Metallic photocatalysts further 24 h of illumination was required to decolour the fabric. The
photocatalytic activity of the titania-wool fabric was preserved after
Research into photoactive textiles is largely driven by the textile three photodegradation cycles. Phenol and various chlorophenols,
industrys interest in oering consumers products with enhanced which occur in some euent streams, have been decomposed in the
functionalities [92]. While it is well known that wool has a lower liquid phase by titania treated wool [109].
resistance towards photodegradation than some other types of textile Achieving adequate adhesion between the wool and the titania can
bres [93], wool has been investigated as a support for various types of be challenging [95], and it is thought that CTi3+, OTi3+, and NTi3+
photocatalysts such as metal oxides, metal sulphides, metal ions and bonds are formed [110]. Several studies have investigated dierent
dyes. Photocatalytic dyes on wool are discussed in Section 6, and approaches to enhancing adhesion by modication of the wool surface
photocatalysts on reconstituted wool are discussed in Section 8. using techniques such as microwave-generated afterglow plasma [111],
radio-frequency plasma [99] and ultraviolet light [99]. These pre-
4.3.1. Titania treatments were thought to modify both the physical and chemical
The most widely studied photocatalyst on wool, and other textile properties of the wool surface, by, for instance, increasing both the
bres, is titania (titanium dioxide), due to its high photocatalytic micro-roughness and the number of polar groups [99]. Another
activity, non-toxicity, ready availability, biocompatibility, and low approach to increasing adhesion is to use binders such as carboxylic
price [9496]. Titania in the form of colloids, powders, or a combina- acids that form covalent bonds between the wool and titania [106].
tion of both, has been applied to wool [97]. Alternatively, titania has Heat treatments are important for imparting photocatalytic activity to
been formed on wool by the hydrolysis and condensation of precursor titania particles, and they can increase adhesion to wool [112], but care
compounds such as titanium tetraisopropoxide in the sol-gel process must be taken to avoid yellowing the wool. A nanocomposite of
[93]. The photocatalytic activity of semi-conducting materials such as graphene/titania has been prepared on wool, which decoloured methy-
titania is caused by light of the appropriate wavelength promoting lene blue under sunlight irradiation [113]. The wool had rst been
electrons from the valence band to the conduction band, see Fig. 7. The treated with titanium isopropoxide/graphene oxide suspension, fol-
electron vacancies produced in the valence band are strongly oxidizing, lowed by reduction with sodium hydrosulphite.
while the electrons promoted to the conduction band are strongly The photoactivity of titania has been enhanced in a number of ways,
reducing. The electron vacancies are able to react with water molecules some of which may be applicable to titania on wool. For instance,
to generate hydroxyl radicals. The electrons promoted to the conduc- incorporating silver and other metals [99,114], metal oxides [115],
tion band react with oxygen molecules, reducing them to superoxide silica [107], dyes [116] and other materials [110,117] into titania can
radical anions. There is generally sucient water vapour in the air for increase its photoactivity. Some additives can render titania photo-
the formation of radicals on titania. It is thought that the hydroxyl catalytic under visible (as opposed to ultraviolet) light [118]. The
radicals, rather than the superoxide radicals, cause the breakdown of photocatalytic activity of titania in liquid-phase reactions can be
organic material [98]. Other than the photocatalytic properties that will increased by applying ultrasound [109].
be discussed below, titania has other notable light-related properties,
i.e. a high level of whiteness and a strong absorption of ultraviolet light. 4.3.2. Zirconia and zinc oxide
Titania has been applied to wool to impart four types of photo- Citric acid has been used to bind zirconia particles (15 nm mean
catalytic activity, i.e. decomposing stains and other organic molecules, particle diameter) to wool, and the zirconia retained its ability to
resistance to bacteria, light-induced wettability, and the decomposition decompose the methylene blue [119]. The photocatalytic activities of
of compounds in wastewater. This topic has attracted considerable wool coated with titania and zirconia by the sol-gel process were

Fig. 7. Photo-excitation of electrons and radical formation in semiconductors.

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

compared by studying the photodegradation of the dyes methylene blue connection with supported biological catalysts are of commercial
and Eosin Y. The dyes were readily decomposed under ultraviolet/ signicance, particularly for the processing of food, cellulose, starch,
visible light with the titania-coated wool giving the most rapid pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and for environmental and industrial
decomposition of the dyes [120]. The two dyes mentioned above have monitoring [134142]. Thus, there are clear potential commercial uses
also been photochemically decomposed by zinc oxide-wool. The zinc for biological catalysts immobilised onto wool.
oxide had been formed from zinc acetate and sodium hydroxide, and
applied to the wool by dip coating, and was able to decompose dyes in 5.1. Enzymes
solution [121]. Zinc oxide nanoparticles have also been attached to
wool by butanetetracarboxylic acid and sodium hypophosphite and 5.1.1. Glycosidases
were able to decompose stains of dyes (Direct Blue 71 and Disperse Red Perhaps the earliest study of enzyme immobilization onto wool was
1), coee and black mulberry juice on the treated wool under reported by Masri et al. in 1975 who studied the binding of lactase
ultraviolet light [122]. [143]. Two immobilisation protocols were investigated; azo coupling
Nitrogen-doped zinc oxide nanoparticles have been formed on wool with diazotised wool, and Schi base formation with nitrilated wool,
by ultrasound-assisted hydrolysis of zinc acetate and ammonia [123]. see Fig. 8. The former approach was unsuccessful, but the latter gave a
The treated wool decolourised methylene blue stain in sunlight. This material that catalysed the hydrolysis of lactose.
approach has also been taken to form nitrogen-doped zinc oxide/ Galactosidases are a type of glycosidase that catalyse the hydrolysis
nitrogen-doped titania coreshell nanocomposites on wool and the of galactosides into monosaccharides, and have been immobilised onto
strong photodecomposition of methylene blue that occurred was pre-treated wool [144]. Acrylic acid was rst graft polymerised onto
ascribed to a synergy between the zinc oxide and titania [124]. wool using the water-soluble photo-initiator sodium 4-(sulphomethyl)
benzil, and the enzyme was then coupled to the polymer grafted wool
4.3.3. Palladium and cadmium with the water-soluble carbodiimide, 1-cyclohexyl-3-(2-morpholi-
Wool that had been coated with a combination of palladium, noethyl) carbodiimide metho-p-toluene sulphonate. The activity of
palladium sulphide and cadmium sulphide has been shown to catalyse the immobilised enzyme was determined by the hydrolysis of 2-
the photodegradation of the dye Rhodomine B under visible light [125]. nitrophenyl--galactopyranoside. Wool had been selected as the cata-
This combination of materials was found to be a more eective catalyst lyst support for this study as it was thought to be a good substrate for
for this reaction than pure cadmium sulphide, and this was attributed to coupling with enzymes because of the similarities between many enzyme
the wool preventing the recombination of photo-generated electrons systems and wool. The activity of galactosidase on wool compared
and electron holes. In comparison to unsupported cadmium sulphide favourably with those reported by other researchers for the same
particles, the wool-based photocatalyst was reported to have the enzyme on nylon grafted with polyacrylamide [145], and poly(metha-
advantages of being recyclable and more cost-eective. cryloxybenzoic acid) cross-linked by divinylbenzene [146]. It was
Palladium-palladium sulphide-cadmium sulphide-wool has also thought that both the amine and carboxyl groups of the enzyme were
been shown to photocatalyse the formation of hydrogen gas from water involved in attachment to the wool, and that the enzyme was
[126]. The optimal preparation involved treating wool with 3% by mass immobilised on the surface of the polymer grafted wool, rather than
of cadmium acetate, which resulted in the highest visible-light photo- the interior, thus contributing to a high activity [144]. Galactosidases
catalytic activity of 1.6 mmol of hydrogen per hour for 0.15 g of have also been covalently attached to wool by a polyethyleneimine/
photocatalyst. This study demonstrated that the palladiumpalladium glutaraldehyde protocol, but the resulting activity was poor [147].
sulphide-wool catalyst could improve the eciency of photocatalytic Lysozymes are known for their ability to damage the cell walls of
hydrogen production by combining the oxidation co-catalyst palladium bacteria, making them of interest as antibacterial agents. A lysozyme
sulphide, and the reduction co-catalyst palladium. The catalyst was has been immobilised onto wool fabric with glutaraldehyde, and
described as being eco-friendly and recyclable. retained 30% of its initial immobilised activity against Staphylococus
aureus after six uses [148,149]. A lysozyme has also been immobilised
4.3.4. Iron onto wool by a crosslinking procedure catalysed by transglutaminase,
Wool has been treated with ferric chloride to prepare solid photo- and it enhanced the antibacterial and antifungal properties of the wool
Fenton catalysts [127129]. The iron-wool catalyst showed high [150]. A third approach to the immobilisation of lysozymes onto wool
photocatalytic activity in the degradation of Rhodamine B and Acid has been investigated, namely layer-by-layer electrostatic self-assembly
Black 234 dyes in water, when the pH was below 6.0. An advantage of deposition with poly(sodium 4-styrenesulphonate), a protocol which
photo-Fenton catalysis is that visible, rather than ultraviolet, light can imparted signicant microbial resistance [151].
be used. However, there are signicant disadvantages such as the need Amylase has been immobilised onto wool, cotton, viscose rayon and
to use low pH conditions, to add hydrogen peroxide, and to remove the polypropylene bres with glutaraldehyde [152]. The supported enzyme
ferrous and ferric ions from the reaction mixture. was able to hydrolyse starch, see Fig. 9. Of the dierent combinations of
amylase and support, amylase-cotton and amylase-viscose rayon ex-
4.4. Summary hibited the greatest activity. Amylase has also been immobilized onto
wool that had been activated by cyanuric chloride [153]. Increasing the
The 49 wool supported metallic catalysts systems discussed here are concentration of cyanuric chloride to 40 g/L increased the immobiliza-
summarised in Table 5. Metallic photocatalysts were the most widely tion eciency to 70%, and the immobilized amylase retained 75% of its
studied, followed by metal complexes then metallic particles. initial immobilised activity after ten experiments. The immobilized and
soluble amylases displayed maximum activities at pH 6.5 and 6.0,
5. Wool bres as supports for biological catalysts respectively, and the former was more resistant to thermal degradation
and inhibition by metal ions, than the later.
Many studies have shown that enzymes and viable cells can be
immobilised onto dierent types of natural and synthetic polymer 5.1.2. Lipases
bres, with retention of catalytic activity [130133]. Various types of The feasibility and limitations of using wool fabric as a substrate for
enzymes and cells have been immobilised onto wool utilising a range of lipase immobilisation has been investigated [147,154]. Lipase from
immobilisation protocols, and these are discussed below and sum- Pseudomonas uorescens was attached to wool by a covalent binding
marised in Table 6. protocol using polyethyleneimine as a spacer and glutaraldehyde as a
Many of the reactions and processes that will be discussed in cross-linker. The activity of the immobilised enzyme was reasonably

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Table 6
Summary of wool-biological catalyst systems that have been studied.

Enzyme/Microbe Attachment Reactant Product(s) Reference(s)

Lactase Azo coupling and Schi base formation Lactose Glucose, galactose [143]
Galactosidase Carbodiimide coupling on acrylic acid grafted wool 2-nitrophenyl--galactopyranoside o-nitrophenol, [144]
Galactosidase Polyethyleneimine/glutaraldehyde coupling 2-nitrophenyl--galactopyranoside o-nitrophenol, [147]
Lysozyme Glutaraldehyde coupling Live bacteria Inactive bacteria [148,149]
Lysozyme Transglutaminase coupling Live bacteria Inactive bacteria [150]
Lysozyme Layer-by-layer deposition with poly(sodium 4-styrenesulphonate) Live bacteria Inactive bacteria [151]
Amylase Glutaraldehyde coupling Starch Glucose [152]
Amylase Cyanuric chloride pre-treatment, absorption Starch, glycogen, amylopectin, Reducing sugars [153]
amylose, cyclodextrins
Lipase Polyethyleneimine/glutaraldehyde coupling on untreated wool, Olive oil stain on fabric Stain-free fabric [147,154]
and wool pre-treated by chlorination/polyamide resin
Lipase Polyethyleneimine/glutaraldehyde coupling Tributyrin Butyric acid, glycerol [58,155157]
Lipase Azide coupling on ethylacrylate grafted wool Olive oil Fatty acids, glycerol [158]
Lipase Entrapment in casein gel covalently attached to the wool surface p-Nitrophenyl palmitate p-Nitrophenol, palmitic acid [147]
Catalase Anionic dye pre-treatment, adsorption Hydrogen peroxide Water, oxygen [166]
Catalase Layer-by-layer deposition with poly(diallydimethylammonium Hydrogen peroxide Water, oxygen [167]
Horseradish Cyanuric chloride pre-treatment, absorption Guaiacol, hydrogen peroxide Not reported [168]
Rhamnosidase Papain pre-treatment, absorption Naringin Rhamnose, prunin [169]
Trypsin Carbodiimide coupling on acrylic acid grafted wool hydrolysis of -benzoyl-arginine-p- Not reported [144]
Acid phosphatase Carbodiimide coupling on acrylic acid grafted wool hydrolysis of Not reported [144]
p-nitrophenyl phosphate
Lactoferrin Transglutaminase coupling and tyrosine coupling Live bacteria and fungi Inactive bacteria and fungi [150,170172]
Lactoferrin Tyrosinase coupling Live bacteria Inactive bacteria [172]
Bakers yeast Glutaraldehyde coupling Sucrose Glucose, fructose [173]
Microbe-rich sewage Adsorption Synthetic sewage Not reported [174]

stable, i.e. 80% of its immobilised activity remained after 80 days in a the wool by converting it to poly(acrylic acyl azide) before coupling
buer solution in a refrigerator. The pHs for the optimum activities of with the enzyme. This immobilisation protocol greatly increased the
the free and immobilized lipase were very similar, suggesting the thermal and operational stabilities of the enzyme, along with the
microenvironments for the free and immobilised lipase were compar- kinetic constant value, as assessed by the hydrolysis of olive oil.
able. The lipase-immobilised fabric demonstrated excellent removal of One approach to attaching enzymes and microbes to textiles, is to
olive oil stains, and this ability was retained for at least one month of encapsulate them in matrices such as silica [159,160] and casein [147].
storage in a dry state. The activity of a galactosidase immobilized onto These matrices can be coated onto the surface of the textiles and retain
wool by this protocol was poor compared to the activity of the lipase, signicant levels of enzyme/microbe activity. Such encapsulated
suggesting the polyethyleneimine/glutaraldehyde immobilisation pro- biological catalysts have been applied to textiles made of bres such
tocol is not necessarily applicable to all enzymes [147,154]. Treating as polyester [161], viscose [162], and wool [147]. Lipase has been
the wool by chlorination followed by the application of a polyamide- attached to wool by entrapment in a casein gel that had been formed on
epichlorohydrin resin, enhanced the subsequent immobilisation of the surface of wool fabric in the presence of transglutaminase [147].
lipase [147,154]. While this approach was able to immobilise the lipase onto wool, the
The polyethyleneimine/glutaraldehyde covalent enzyme immobili- loss of enzyme by diusion, and the high mass transfer resistance of the
sation protocol discussed in the preceding paragraph [147,154] was gel, meant that this approach was seen by the researchers as less
rened in a subsequent study [155]. The immobilised lipase had good successful than covalent attachment.
stability, and retained 81% of its initial immobilised activity during ten
replications of a tributyrin hydrolysis procedure. The authors stated
that their work opens up the possibility of using wool as a cheap and 5.1.3. Catalase
eective lipase support material for continuous lipase reactions/reactors and Catalase is an enzyme which catalyses the decomposition of
possibly enzyme enhanced woollen fabrics. compounds such as hydrogen peroxide, thereby helping to protect cells
The polyethyleneimine/glutaraldehyde covalent enzyme immobili- from damage by reactive oxygen species. Catalase is used in the food,
sation protocol was also used in further studies [58,156,157]. The dairy, and pulp and paper industries [163]. In textile processing it is
optimal pH for the hydrolysis of tributyrin by the immobilised lipase used to remove undesirable residues of hydrogen peroxide that are
was found to be slightly dierent to that of the free lipase, suggesting present on textiles after some types of bleaching [164], and has shown
that there were some dierences in the immediate environments of the some potential in treating textile processing euent [165].
enzyme. The free and immobilized lipase had the same optimal Catalase has been immobilized onto a range of supports including
temperatures of 45 C for the hydrolysis of tributyrin. The immobilized wool, nylon 6, silk, chitosan, amberlite, and poly(vinylpyrrolidone). In
lipase was stable to reuse (85% retention of activity after six long-term one study, catalase was applied to supports (including wool) which had
tributyrin hydrolysis procedures) and storage (76% retention of activity been activated by dyeing with an anionic dye [166], see Fig. 10. The
after 40 weeks at 4 C). Immobilisation increased the thermal stability immobilised catalase exhibited the greatest activity on nylon 6 that had
of the lipase by a factor of 2.4 times. been activated by the sulphonic dye, Cibacron Blue, with around one-
A lipase has been covalently attached to wool that had been graft third of the enzyme being active. The optimal pH of the catalase was
polymerised [158]. The grafted poly(ethylacrylate) was activated on not changed by immobilisation, and the immobilised enzyme had
greater stability than free enzyme under the conditions typically

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Fig. 8. Immobilisation of lactase onto wool, and hydrolysis of lactose [143].

encountered in food processing. Catalase has also been applied to wool the support that gave the greatest stabilisation of the enzyme, followed
fabric via layer-by-layer electrostatic self-assembly deposition with poly by bovine horn keratin and papain treated wool, and powdered calf
(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) and was found to be active hide collagen.
against hydrogen peroxide during repeated experiments [167]. The enzymes trypsin and acid phosphatase have been immobilised
onto wool that had been modied by the graft polymerisation of acrylic
5.1.4. Other enzymes acid by the protocol discussed in Section 5.1.1 above [144]. Trypsin
Immobilising horseradish peroxidase onto wool was reported to activity was measured by the hydrolysis of -benzoyl-arginine-p-
have made the enzyme more suitable for several industrial and environ- nitroanilide, and acid phosphatase activity was measured by the
mental purposes [168]. The wool had been pre-treated with cyanuric hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl phosphate, and both enzymes demonstrated
chloride to enhance subsequent attachment of the enzyme. The signicant activities when supported on wool.
immobilised enzyme retained 50% of its initial immobilised activity
against guaiacol and hydrogen peroxide after seven reuses. Compared 5.2. Lactoferrin
to the free enzyme, the immobilised enzyme demonstrated a broader
optimum pH range, a higher optimum temperature, greater resistance Lactoferrin is a glycoprotein with many functions in living systems,
to trypsin mediated proteolysis, greater storage stability and superior most notably the binding and transport of iron ions. It is part of the
resistance to denaturation by urea, non-ionic surfactant, isopropanol, human immune system and has antimicrobial activity. Lactoferrin has
butanol and dioxan. been covalently bound to wool by a reaction catalysed by transgluta-
Naringin is the substance responsible for the bitter taste of grape- minase enzyme [150,170,171]. The wool-supported Lactoferrin showed
fruit and some orange juices. Naringinase enzyme is used industrially to good activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, and
decompose naringin in fruit juices to improve their taste, and the fungi. The antibacterial activity of the lactoferrin-wool fabric eect was
immobilisation of the naringinase alpha-rhamnosidase onto wool and halved by ve launderings. Lactoferrin has also been attached to wool
other supports has been studied [169]. Papain treated silk broin was by tyrosinase catalysed coupling, imparting signicant bacterial resis-

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Fig. 9. Comparison of the activity of amylase immobilised onto dierent bres. Cotton and polypropylene were grafted with HEMA (2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate). The non-pre-treated
HEMA-g-polypropylene had no measurable activity. [152].

tance, i.e. 76% inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus [172]. aerated lter reactor for the tertiary treatment of sewage was compared
to the ecacy of commercial plastic rings. It was found that the wool
5.3. Microbes bioreactor performed more consistently than the plastic one. The yield
of sludge from the wool bioreactor was almost half that of the plastic
The immobilisation of microbes onto bres has been the subject of bioreactor, suggesting that the wool was retaining organic and parti-
signicant amounts of research [132,133,173175]. Two of the studies culate materials. As the wool gradually degraded, it was concluded that
were undertaken with wool and are reviewed here. In one investigation, it should be considered as providing additional sacricial adsorption
bakers yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) cells were immobilized onto capacity rather than an alternative medium.
wool with glutaraldehyde, and investigated for the continuous hydro-
lysis of sucrose [173], see Fig. 11. When used continuously at 70 C
with 2.0 M of sucrose, the immobilised yeasts activity was constant for 5.4. Summary
30 days, and only decreased by around 50% during a further 30 days of
use. A summary of the published studies on wool supported biological
The immobilisation of microbe-rich sludge on bres such as wool catalysts is shown in Table 6. As a wide range of attachment protocols
[174] has been investigated. The ecacy of wool bre in a submerged have been investigated, these are also included in Table 6.

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Fig. 10. Comparison of the activity of catalase immobilised onto dierent materials [166].

6. Wool bres as supports for organocatalysts and reused at least four times and the authors opined that rose bengal-
wool catalyst represents a practical alternative to soluble rose bengal for
Small organic molecules have been investigated as catalysts in relatively high photostability, recyclability, sensitizing activity, and sustain-
recent years, and are generally referred to as organocatalysts. able development [181]. Wool that had been treated with three
Organocatalysts are non-proteinaceous, metal-free, and exhibit anthraquinone acid dye sensitizers showed photo-induced antimicro-
Brnsted-Lowery or Lewis acidic/basic reactivity, or photocatalytic bial activity and photo-induced grafting of vinyl monomers onto the
activity. Thus, their activity, and selectivity are distinct to those of wool [183].
metallic and biological catalysts [176]. Within the eld of organocata- One published study concerned the immobilisation of non-photo-
lysts, signicant eort has been directed towards their immobilisation active organocatalysts on nylon fabric [57], and this will be discussed
onto solid materials, including textiles [20,57,177183], but only here as it gives some insights into the potential use of wool in this area.
photo-active organocatalysts appear to have been studied on wool to- Ultraviolet light was used to attach three types of organocatalysts, at
date, see Table 7 [181183]. levels up to 0.025 mmol per gram of nylon (see Fig. 13). The
Some photo-active organocatalysts produce reactive oxygen species immobilised organocatalysts were evaluated in three reactions, (I) the
such as singlet oxygen, under the appropriate illumination, and these sterically demanding acylation of phenol with isobutyric anhydride, (II)
compounds were included in a recent review of photo-induced anti- intramolecular hydroetherication, and (III) alcoholic desymmetrisa-
microbial and decontamination technologies [184]. Some of the most tion of a cyclic anhydride. The immobilised organocatalysts showed
common sensitizers are methylene blue, rose bengal (4,5,6,7-tetra- excellent stability, activity, enantioselectivity and recyclability for the
chloro- 2,4,5,7- tetraiodouorescein), porphyrins, and fullerenes (see various reactions. It was found that the loading of catalyst on the nylon
Fig. 12). Rose bengal was formerly used commercially as a dye for wool, could be controlled by adding the cross-linker pentaerythritol triacry-
and wool treated with rose bengal photocatalises the oxidation of furan late.
derivatives to compounds of pharmaceutical importance when illumi- There is interest in a type of organocatalyst known as enzyme-
nated with visible light [181,182]. It should however be noted that mimics where cofactors are applied to protein [185]. This does not
furan and its derivatives are some of the most reactive substrates appear to have been investigated with wool to-date, but organocatalysts
towards singlet oxygen, so that it should not be assumed that rose have been applied to reconstituted hair keratin and are discussed in
bengal-wool would necessarily oxidise other compounds. The rose Section 8. Reconstituted wool has been studied as a support for a photo-
bengal-wool catalyst could be recovered from the reaction mixture active organocatalyst and this is also discussed in Section 8.

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Fig. 11. Immobilisation of bakers yeast onto wool and the hydrolysis of sucrose [173].

Table 7 7. Wool bres as templates for preparing catalysts

Summary of organocatalyst-wool systems that have been studied.
Templating is an eective way of controlling morphology and
Catalyst Attachment Reactant Product Reference(s)
introducing structural complexity during the preparation of catalysts.
Rose bengal Absorption Furans Oxidised [181,182] Often, the template itself is sacriced during the process by chemical or
furans thermal destruction, see Fig. 14. It appears that wool has not been used
Anthraquinone dyes Absorption Live Inactive [183] as a template for catalysts; hence, this section of the review will discuss
microbes microbes
examples of template materials that are analogous to wool, or show
Anthraquinone dyes Absorption Vinyl Vinyl grafted [183]
monomers wool potential to be substituted with wool. Feather keratin and human hair
have been used as templates to produce hollow brous metal oxides,
which may have catalytic properties [186]. Fibrous oxides of cerium,
cobalt, nickel, tin and aluminium were prepared by surface precipita-
tion of metal salts, followed by ltration, then calcination, where the
keratin template was burnt-o. The brous metal oxides produced were

Fig. 12. Examples of photo-active organocatalysts used on wool. From left, methylene blue, rose bengal, porphyrin, and sodium anthraquinone-2-sulphonate.

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Fig. 13. Examples of the types of organocatalysts applied to nylon bres by Lee et al.[57]. From left to right, Lewis basic, Brnsted-Lowery acidic, and a chiral cinchona sulphonamide.

Fig. 14. Possible use of wool as templates for catalysts.

hollow and porous, exhibiting the surface morphology of the keratin Reconstituted wool, that was prepared by reductive dissolution in
bre used, such as the barbules of chicken feathers and the scale urea, followed by dialysis and lyophilisation, was used as a support for
structure of hair. lysozyme enzyme [189]. The activity of the enzyme was assessed by the
Human hair has been dip-coated with sinterable particles of alumina hydrolysis of a suspension of Micrococcus lysodeikticus (now known as
to prepare self-supporting materials with micro-channels [187]. A Micrococcus luteus) bacteria. It was found that some of the cysteine
range of other bres was also used including, nylon, para-aramide, residues in keratin contributed to the mechanical strength of the
polypropylene, and polyimide. The thermal behaviour of the template reconstituted wool, while other cysteine residues remained in the free
bres had a large eect on the structure of the nal material, and good form. Attaching the enzyme to the reconstituted wool by disulphide
results were achieved with hair. bonds proved to be less resistant to hydrolysis than attachment by
Cotton bre has been used as both the carbon source and template thioether bonds.
for preparing titanium carbide nanowires [188]. The nanowires were The eectiveness of a photocatalyst in anticancer therapy was
subsequently used as supports for platinum electrocatalysts, which greatly increased by attaching it to nanoparticles of wool keratin
exhibited a higher electrochemically active surface area, improved [190]. Chlorin e6, (see Figs. 15 and 16) which produces cytotoxic
electrocatalytic activity and greater durability, than a commercial reactive oxygen species from molecular oxygen upon irradiation with
catalyst of platinum supported on carbon. Platinum electrocatalysts white light, was modied by N-hydroxysuccinimide and 1-ethyl-3-(3-
are of signicant interest, as researchers believe that the performance of dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide, so it could form a covalent bond
these catalysts, with respect to activity and durability, is limiting the with the amino groups of reconstituted wool. Keratin was extracted
commercialisation of fuel cells [188]. from wool by sulphitolysis followed by dialysis. The reconstituted wool
supported chlorin e6 was then converted into nanoparticles by both
self-assembling and desolvation protocols, to give nanoparticles of
8. Reconstituted wool and other keratins as supports for catalysts
around 200 nm diameter. The nanoparticles were then applied to two
lines of tumour cells, and their photodynamic eectiveness determined.
While many studies have concerned the use of wool bres as a
The photoactivity of the chlorin e6 was increased by supporting it on
support for catalysts, only ve studies appear to have been published on
reconstituted wool, and it killed around 90% of tumour cells, while
using reconstituted wool for supporting catalysts. Hence, three repre-
being non-toxic in the absence of illumination. Wool keratin was chosen
sentative studies on feather and hair keratin will also be included in the
as the support because of its excellent biocompatibility, low toxicity to
following discussion. The studies of reconstituted wool supported
cells and the many options available for attachment of bioactive
catalysts are summarised in Table 8.

Table 8
Summary of reconstituted wool-supported catalyst systems that have been studied.

Catalyst Attachment Reactant Product Reference

Lysozyme Covalent Live bacteria Hydrolysed bacteria [189]

Chlorin e6 Covalent Live tumour cells Dead tumour cells [190]
Photocatalysts (Azure A and a porphyrin) Electrostatic and covalent Live bacteria Inactive bacteria [192]
Palladium(II) tetra-sulphophthalocyanine Electrostatic Styrene, bromobenzene Phenylacetylene, Heck coupling product Sonogashira [193]
bromobenzene coupling product
Gold- and silver- doped manganese dioxide Electrostatic Toluene/xylene, oxygen Aromatic aldehydes [194]
Toluene/xylene, aromatic amines Derivatives of
2-aryl-1H-benzo[d]imidazole 2-aryl-

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Fig. 15. Catalysts applied to reconstituted wool. Chlorin e6, Azure A and 5,10,15,20-tetrakis [4-(2-N,N,N-trimethylethylthio)-2,3,5,6 tetrauorophenyl]porphyrin tetraiodide salt.

substances that are possible because of to the wide range of amino acids 5,10,15,20-tetrakis [4-(2-N,N,N-trimethylethylthio)-2,3,5,6 tetrauoro-
residues. Putting the chlorin e6 onto keratin increased its transport phenyl]porphyrin tetraiodide salt (see Fig. 15) [192]. Attachment was
across the tumour cell membranes, to give greater accumulation in the via electrostatic attraction and covalent bonding with glutaraldehyde.
cytoplasm. The researchers suggested that this high uptake was due to Both of the keratin supported photocatalysts were active against Gram-
the sulphonated cysteine (SO3) groups of the keratin [190], as these positive and Gram-negative bacteria, while supporting the growth of
groups are known to be recognised by the selectin glycoproteins, which broblast cells.
are over expressed in tumour cells [191]. Graphene oxide is an appealing support for catalysts because it has
Keratin materials are of growing interest for medical applications, high thermal and mechanical stability and can be dispersed in water.
so it would be benecial to make them more resistant to the growth of However, its binding of some types of catalysts is very poor. To
biolms. One approach to preventing biolms is to attach photocata- overcome this limitation, a group of researchers have used wool protein
lysts which produce reactive oxygen species which inactivate bacteria. to increase the binding of a catalyst to graphene oxide [193]. A solution
Wool keratin sponges were formed by sulphitolysis and freeze drying, of wool protein was prepared by dissolution in mercaptoethanol/1-
then two photocatalysts were attached, namely, Azure A and butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride. Graphene oxide nanosheets

Fig. 16. Photochemical destruction of cells by chlorin e6 immobilised onto reconstituted wool [190].

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

(which had been acylated) were treated by the wool protein solution for zyme. It has been shown that the adenine moiety of the avin adenine
12 h then washed and dried. Then the catalyst (palladium(II) tetra- dinucleotide is the site of bonding with the keratin [198]. Reconstituted
sulphophthalocyanine) was applied. The resulting catalyst contained human hair keratin has also been used to support the organic catalysts
0.86% by mass of palladium, and was evaluated in a series of aqueous 1-(2-bromoethyl)-3-carbamoylpyridinium bromide and 1-propyl-3-
coupling reactions in which yields were as high as 99%. The wool chloroformylpyridinium bromide (see Fig. 17). These organic catalysts
protein improved catalytic activity and the catalyst was reused ve are model compounds for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, and were
times without signicant loss of activity. covalently bound to the keratin, and shown to eectively reduce N-
Pyrolysed reconstituted wool has been successfully employed as a methylacridinium and ,,-triuoroacetophenone [199]. These re-
support for gold- and silver-doped magnesium dioxide nanoparticles sults demonstrated that modied, non-enzyme protein (i.e. keratin,
[194]. Reconstituted wool was prepared by dissolving wool in 1-butyl- modied by organic catalysts) could behave like an enzyme, in this case
3-methylimidazolium chloride, then precipitating in water. The recon- oxidoreductase, and that a protein can assist the activity of enzyme
stituted wool was then pyrolysed at 500 C in a nitrogen atmosphere, models.
then ground into a powder in a mortar and pestle. Manganese dioxide Granules of keratin extracted from feather were used for the
nanoparticles were formed on the pyrolysed wool protein by treatment immobilisation of lactase, with glutaraldehyde employed as a cross-
in magnesium chloride and potassium permanganate under sonication. linking agent [200]. The enzyme retained a high level of activity
The manganese nanoparticles were then doped with gold or silver by against lactose during immobilisation, and in a column reactor, the
treatment with soluble salts of the metals. The catalysts prepared half-life of the enzyme was between 50 and 100 days. A problem
contained 8.0% (by mass) of manganese dioxide and either 0.2% gold reported with the granules of keratin was that they formed a gel
or 0.4% silver [194]. The catalysts were successfully used in two classes containing approximately 90% of water, which slowed the diusion of
of oxidative reactions. Namely, the oxidation of the primary carbon- reactants and products to and from the enzyme respectively. This
hydrogen bonds of toluene and xylene, and oxidative coupling reactions diculty was also discussed in Section 4.1.2 in connection to lipase in
toluene and xylene with amines, see Table 8 for details. The dispersion casein gel.
of the doped manganese nanoparticles across the surface of the Reconstituted feather keratin that was complexed with palladium
pyrolysed wool protein increased catalytic activity compared to the has been shown to be an ecient catalyst for the coupling reactions of
unsupported/aggregated form. There was no signicant loss of activity aryl bromides with arylboronic acid in aqueous media under mild
with four reuses. It was thought that the nitrogen content of the reaction conditions [201]. The biaryl compounds produced were
reconstituted wool contributed to the catalytic activity, basicity and precipitated from the reaction mixture with yields generally over
oxidation stability of the resulting pyrolysis material [195]. 90%. The catalyst was recovered from the reaction solution by simple
Human hair has been dissolved by reduction, to give polypeptides ltration, and could be reused at least seven times.
with an average molecular weight of 4500 Da, which were then
complexed with nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a coenzyme found
in all living cells (see Fig. 17) [196]. This complex was shown to 9. Conclusions
catalyse the oxidation of glutaraldehyde to glyceric acid. In a related
study, this human hair protein was complexed with the coenzyme avin This review has discussed 87 studies of wool and reconstituted wool
adenine dinucleotide (see Fig. 17) to catalyse the dehydrogenation of as catalysts and supports for catalysts, see Table 9. Only two of these
succinic acid to fumaric acid [197]. The thiol groups in the reduced hair studies considered the catalytic properties of wool itself. A wide variety
keratin were thought to stimulate the catalytic activity of the coen- of catalysts have been applied to wool, i.e. metal complexes, metal
oxides, metallic particles, enzymes, microbes and small organic mole-

Fig. 17. Catalysts applied to reconstituted human hair, and feathers. From left, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, avin adenine dinucleotide, 1-(2-bromoethyl)-3-carbamoylpyridinium
and 1-propyl-3-chloroformylpyridinium.

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

Table 9
Types of catalysts studied on wool.

Support/type of catalyst Catalysts Number of studies reviewed

Wool, oxidised wool 2

Wool supported catalyst

Metal complex Palladium, platinum, palladium-cobalt, iron-palladium, rhodium, osmium, iron, cobalt, copper, phthalocyanine 19
Metallic Manganese dioxide, ferrites(cobalt, manganese, zinc, chromium), iron oxide, gold chloride 5
Metallic photocatalysta Titania, zirconia, zinc oxide, palladium, palladium sulphide, cadmium sulphide, iron 24
Enzymes Glycosidases, lipases, Catalase, Peroxidase, Nariginase, Trypsin, Acid Phosphatase 23
Lactoferrin Lactoferrin 4
Microorganism Yeast, sewage sludge 2
Organic Rose bengal and anthroquinone dyes 3

Reconstituted wool supported catalysts

Metal complex Palladium(II) tetra-sulphophthalocyanine 1
Metallic particulate Gold- and silver-doped manganese dioxide 1
Enzyme Lysozyme 1
Organic Chlorin e6, Azure A, porphyrin 2
Total 87a

Incomplete with respect to titania, of which there may be up to several hundred.

cules. Wool supported catalysts generally showed good activity, groups in the hair were thought to stimulate the catalytic activity of the
specicity, durability, and re-usability. Many of these catalysts are organic catalyst. Wool possesses signicant levels of thiol/disulphide
used in processes of commercial signicance. groups. Wool represents a low cost, readily processed and easy-to-
Wool shares many of the benets of other catalyst supports such as modify protein that could be coupled with organic molecules to prepare
reducing aggregation of catalysts (particularly nanoparticles) and the synthetic enzymes.
associated loss of activity, facilitating reuse of catalysts and enabling Reconstituted wool is an eective support for enzyme, metal oxide
continuous (as opposed to batch) processing. More specic advantages and organic photo-active catalysts. Reconstituted wool has low toxicity
include biocompatibility with some catalysed reactions, biodegradabil- towards cells, making it a promising support for medical catalysts such
ity, and being readily available and modestly priced. The larger variety as those used for phototherapy. It is believed that the nitrogen content
of functional groups present in wool, compared to most other supports, of reconstituted wool contributed to the catalytic activity, basicity and
allows for a wider range of binding mechanisms. The reactivity of wool oxidation stability of the resulting pyrolysis material. Fibres of keratin
has been utilised to prepare catalyst on the bre surface, i.e. reducing (hair and feathers) have been used as templates for preparing highly
permanganate ions in the synthesis of catalytic manganese dioxide structured materials that may prove eective as catalysts.
nanoparticles. Catalysts have been attached to wool by many chemical and
The ability to process wool bre into a range of yarns, fabrics physical methods. Some metallic catalysts were simply complexed to
(knitted, woven and nonwoven) and other structures by existing wool. Groups in wool such as amines and carboxylic acid, enable
equipment is advantageous for practical applications in catalysis. covalent attachment by various protocols, which gives very strong
Wool can be dissolved and reconstituted into solids of various forms, attachment, while often retaining high levels of catalytic activity.
thus giving further options for supporting catalysts. Wool does have Enzymes and microbes have been attached by cross-linking, most
certain limitations, some of which are shared by other organic polymer frequently with glutaraldehyde, and by the formation of disulphide
supports, such as susceptibility to damage from heat (above 100 C), and thioether bonds, azoic coupling and formation of Schi bases. In
alkalis, reducing agents and oxidising agents. Wool does have excellent some studies, the wool was modied to enhance the subsequent
resistance to mild acids and many organic solvents. None of the attachment of catalysts by polymer grafting, diazotisation, oxidation,
common organic textile bres can match the strength, thermal stability nitrilation and applying anionic dyes. Catalysts have been entrapped in
and chemical inertness of glass and steel bres. But from the point of materials such as casein gel on the surface of wool bres, but the loss of
view of attaching catalyst, chemical inertness is a disadvantage, and catalysts by diusion, and the high mass transfer resistance observed,
there may be some applications where the high breaking extensions of are signicant disadvantages of this approach.
organic bres are advantageous, i.e. 35% for wool, 2% for glass bre,
and 8% for steel wire.
10. Future prospects
Dierent attributes of wool are important to dierent types of
catalysts. For instance, oxidised wool has been shown to be an eective
This review has shown the wide breadth of research that has been
solid sulphonic acid catalyst. This activity is derived from disulphide
undertaken on wool catalysts and wool-supported catalysts. There is a
bonds, and these do not occur in other common, non-keratinous bres.
need for studies that directly compare the performances of dierent
Wool is an eective support for metallic catalysts because it can
support materials, that use catalyst application methods optimised for
complex a wide range of catalytic metal compounds, to give high
each support, and the same determination of catalytic performance.
loadings and strong attachment. Wool assists metallic photocatalysts by
One of the most exciting applications of wool in this area is
preventing the recombination of photo-generated electrons and holes.
sulphonic acid catalysts, as this is an emerging area of research and
Wool is a good support for biological catalysts because it is essentially a
wool only requires a simple, environmentally sustainable, modication
protein, with a wide variety of amino acid side-chains, giving it a
to produce a high level of sulphonic acid groups. Another exciting
similar composition to enzymes, which enhances compatibility and
application is the supporting and activating of organic molecules to
overall activity. The only type of organocatalysts to have been
prepare synthetic enzymes. This is appealing as it utilises the fact that
investigated on wool to-date are photocatalysts. Reconstituted hair,
both wool and enzymes are largely proteins.
modied by organic catalysts, can behave like an enzyme and the thiol
Wool does not appear to have been studied as a template to-date,

S.J. McNeil et al. Applied Catalysis A, General 541 (2017) 120140

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