New in Green Chemistry: The Zipper approach

Many chemical products can be produced via different routes. One of these routes may be industrialized depending upon its cost-effectiveness, satisfaction of environmental constraints and ease of scale-up. As you may be aware, environmental constraints have become stringent due to the effects the chemical and allied industries have on our environment. Green Chemistry, with its 12 guiding principles has made the world look at conventional chemistry and its subsequent scale up with a fresh approach that is environmentally benign.

In 1990, Elias James “E.J.” Corey, an American organic chemist won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of the theory and methodology of organic synthesis, specifically retrosynthetic analysis. The most famous of all the restrosynthesis processes is the production of Ibuprofen, wherein 6 steps were reduced to just 3. This achieved one of the 12 principles of Green Chemistry that says, “Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.”

Synthesis Explorer by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) helps students and teachers plan synthetic routes by choosing a starting compound, reacting it and viewing details of the reaction.

According to Warner, only 10 percent of current technologies are environmentally benign and 35 percent could be made benign relatively easy. The remaining 65 percent will need to be reinvented in more environmentally benign ways. A report by Lisa Lilleland, a sustainability advisor and environmental advocate.

Retrosynthesis is design of organic synthesis to find newer, simpler and benign ways to produce a compound. Technion Scientists have now developed a new method for selective synthesis of complex molecules. They call it the “Zipper Approach”. It is a one-of-a-kind stereochemistry for difficult transformations: allylic C-H (H=Hydrogen) and selective C-C bond activations. The paper is published in the journal Nature.

More and more companies are now offering services in upscaling and route scouting. Route scouting is the creation of sustainable synthesis routes. Some of the companies that provide such services are:

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