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Combining process development with catalyst development: A powerful approach to custom manufacturing of API and intermediates


*Corresponding author
1. Evonik Nutrition & Care GmbH, Hanau-Wolfgang, Germany
2. Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH, Hanau-Wolfgang, Germany


For the efficient development of a new catalytic process, the participation of experts in different fields is essential. Development of the catalyst, whether homogeneous or heterogeneous, and development of the catalytic process must go hand-in-hand if the optimum result is to be achieved. It may also be necessary to develop a new catalyst to achieve the best process, rather than relying on existing commercial catalysts, and this is best achieved if the right technical experts are involved at an early stage. Once the catalyst and reaction system have been defined, safety, analytical and reaction engineering aspects all need to be considered as part of the development process in order to ensure an efficient and streamlined transfer to production scale.


Heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis, both with precious and base metals, is a key part of the synthetic chemist’s portfolio for the manufacture of pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates (1,2). There is an increasing trend in both the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries for synthetic processes to be more efficient in terms of yield, throughput and sustainability, as well as adhering to the 12 principles of green chemistry. One of these principles is: “Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents” (3). A Contract Manufacturing Organization (CMO) needs to be able to offer the widest range of catalytic processes, in addition to a broad portfolio of other differentiating technologies, and to be able to develop and optimize them to production scale, in order to provide the optimal solutions to its customers. The requirement for new and more specialised catalysts is also affected by new developments in process chemistry, for example the increasing use of continuous flow systems for catalytic processes (4). In a previous issue of Chemistry Today, we discussed the challenges and opportunit ...

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