From bulk compounds to fine chemicals in one step

Year 2005
Project team Timothy Jamison

A one-step process

The fine chemicals industry is a multi-trillion-dollar world market that is presently growing in tandem with one of its biggest customers, the pharmaceutical industry. It also produces materials used in polymers, flavors/fragrances, agricultural chemicals, and adhesives/sealants, among others. One of the industry’s central challenges is developing more efficient, more economical, and more environmentally benign ways to convert readily available bulk chemicals into exotic, highly profitable fine chemicals. This project’s goal is to deliver a new technology aimed at this challenge: a one-step process that yields fine chemicals by coupling bulk chemicals. By combining common and readily available alkenes (chemical feedstocks known as “alpha-olefins”) with a range of other bulk chemicals, such as aldehydes, the process is designed to deliver an orders-of-magnitude improvement in producing valuable and widely used fine chemicals called chiral alcohols. Currently, no other method of preparing these compounds from these starting materials exists, and thus both the “value-added” and scientific impact of this technology is substantial.