Challenges and opportunities in catalysis


Evonik Nutrition & Care GmbH
Rodenbacher Chaussee 4, 63457 Hanau-Wolfgang, Germany


A wide range of heterogeneous and homogeneous metal-based catalysts, organocatalysts and biocatalysts are used today for the manufacture of fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. Modern catalysts can be fine-tuned for specific processes, and can be adapted for operation in batch or continuous mode. For some products, both chemocatalytic and biocatalytic commercial routes have been developed, and the choice of process may depend on other factors such as raw material or plant investment costs.

Metal-catalysed reactions (using both heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysts) and biocatalytic processes are today part of the standard toolbox of the process chemist. The choice of metals, supports and ligands, and both isolated enzyme and whole cell biocatalysts that are available is vast, and many are commercially available on the scale required for a multi-ton pharmaceutical, agrochemical or fine chemical manufacturing process. Elsewhere in this supplement to Chimica Oggi - Chemistry Today we present the results of an interview with several catalyst manufacturers on some of the issues facing the users of catalytic processes: which catalyst to use, either heterogeneous, homogeneous or biocatalytic, and whether the process is more suitable for batch or continuous operation. Here we look at some of the trends, challenges and opportunities in applying catalytic solutions on an industrial scale.


Surveys of the reactions used in medicinal chemistry (1) and in process chemistry (2) show that catalytic processes are very widely used in the pharmaceutical industry today. In fact, modern aromatic and heteroaromatic C-C and C-N coupling reactions, speci ...