Limiting the quantity of catalysts substances that trigger a chemical reaction used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals is important, and research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has now demonstrated that small quantities of copper work well in this respect.
"This is an important finding, not just academically but also for industry," says chemist Per-Fredrik Larsson.
Catalysis is an incredibly valuable tool in the field of chemistry, with the Haber-Bosch process being one of the most important catalytic processes in the world. It is used to manufacture fertilizer, and calculations show that without it the world's population would be just half of what it is today.
Precious metals are often used as catalysts in organic chemistry as they enable the production of many organic molecules with applications in areas such as pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals. As recently as 2010 Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on palladium catalysis.
"A problem with precious metals like palladium is that they are both expensive and harmful to the environment," says Per-Fredrik Larsson at the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology.
Recent years have seen researchers evaluating several different non-precious metals primarily iron and copper as cheap and environmentally friendly alternatives to precious metals.
"Iron catalysts have proven to be a competitive alternative to precious metals for a number of reactions," says Per-Fredrik Larsson. "An in-depth understanding of how these reactions work is incredibly important if we are to take this further. The results from our studies with iron led to several important insights into just how complex the chemistry can be."
Larsson's research group works not only with experimental methods but also with calculation models to understand how the chemistry works.
The trend for swapping
|Contact: Per-Fredrik Larsson|
University of Gothenburg