Catalysts are widely used to speed up chemical reactions without actually getting used up in the process. They are one of the core aspects of making greener chemistry.
A few years ago, we were fortunate to develop an important catalyst with unique selectivity in one of the world’s most important types of carbon-carbon bond forming reactions. This reaction is used to make components of many of the things around you as you read this! These include, paints, flavours, biocompatible polyester plastics, PVC, fragrances, sun tan lotion, and pharmaceuticals. The list is nearly endless.
The catalyst we use for this is quite complex and was only prepared in tiny amounts to do research. However, in this project we wanted to make the catalyst available to the research community through a chemical catalogue company. In order to do this, it was necessary to refine a more cost effective procedure that saved on solvents, time, reagents and purification, as well as to initiate collaboration with a catalogue company to sell research samples of the compound. This was successfully achieved in a short timescale (12 weeks).
The catalyst is now available from Strem Chemicals (USA). It is hoped these research samples will lead to an end-user identifying their own application for our catalyst and a subsequent large-scale usage. In addition to this, we envisaged that one of the precursors for our catalyst could be transformed into another related catalyst, and that customers could be found who would wish to buy larger amounts than can economically be purchased at present.