Flow Chemistry

Round and round with a precious catalyst

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Science  08 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6235, pp. 645-646
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6235.645-g

When manufacturing pharmaceuticals, it is crucial to make just one of two possible mirror-image structures. Soluble precious metal catalysts can facilitate that objective, but they're often hard to collect and reuse after the reaction is over. O'Neal et al. present a laboratory-scale flow and filtration protocol to keep a ruthenium hydrogenation catalyst in continuous use for 24 hours. A membrane incorporated into the flow apparatus retains the catalyst in the reaction loop while releasing the product, all the while withstanding hydrogen pressure and a strongly basic co-catalyst. Less than 200 parts per billion of ruthenium escapes into the product stream.

ACS Catal. 5, 2615 (2015).

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