Avecia, Europe's largest privately-owned speciality chemicals company, formally launched its Pd EnCat encapsulated palladium catalyst technology at last week's CPhI meeting in Frankfurt, Germany.
The catalyst is suitable for catalysing a range of processes, such as Suzuki, Heck, carbonylation and transfer hydrogenation reactions, and offers higher throughput from process automation, as well as 'cleaner chemistry' benefits. These include reduced metal contamination of the final product and reductions in solvent use, as well as catalyst recovery (via simple filtration) and recycling.
Pd EnCat is the first product to have been developed through a collaboration between Avecia and a research group, headed by Steve Ley at the University of Cambridge in the UK, which is focussing on supported reagents and catalysts. It is based on the application of Avecia's polyurea microencapsulation technology to immobilise palladium salts, along with any required activating ligands, within a matrix.
In the latest development, the Avecia/Cambridge team has developed a new immobilisation technique, based on interfacial polymerisation technology, to make the resulting beads highly mechanically robust and insoluble in all common organic solvents.
A spokesman for the company told In-pharmatechnologist.com that pressures in the drug industry means that there is great interest in upstream technology innovations in pharmaceuticals that can lead to lower environmental burden, greater efficiency and lower costs.
The technology also provides a great deal of flexibility with regard to the palladium content and ligands that can be incorporated into the polyurea bead, as well as to the bead size and structure, which means that Pd EnCat can be tailored to a customer's specific chemical process, according to Avecia.
The company notes that the product range has wide applications across chemistry, although early applications will be in pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, where removal of toxic metals from active products is a priority.
A series of other EnCat products using other metal catalysts are expected to flesh out the range in the future, according to Avecia. Other companies that have developed encapsulated catalyst technologies include Johnson Matthey of the US.
The spokesman confirmed rumours that the company is looking at the possibility of developing the business as a dedicated business unit, and suggested that more details of this strategy would be released early next year.