Dominic Ormerod

24 Aug 2012

Dominic Ormerod obtained his Ph.D. in organic synthesis from the Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la –Neuve, Belgium) under the supervision of Prof. I.E. Markó. In 1998 on completion of his Ph.D. he moved to the department of chemical process research at Janssen Pharmacetica (Beerse, Belgium) where he worked from 1998 until January 2012. He has extensive knowledge of all aspects concerning the development of synthetic routes to complex molecules that are usable on large scale. In the latter years of his time in Janssen he developed an interest in Organic solvent Nanofiltration, an interest that precipitated his move in February 2012 to the Flemish institute for Technological Research, VITO in Mol. Currently he is a researcher in Vito leading projects on Process Intensification with membranes, focusing on difficult organic solvent streams.

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Process intensification via OSN assisted synthesis: towards more environmentally benign chemical production 

With increasing pressure being placed upon the environment and natural resources, sustainability is becoming increasingly important within all aspects of society. This manifests itself in an increasing awareness by Governments and the public of the effects industry is having on the environment.

Also, sometimes erroneously, the chemical industry is perceived to be one of the most polluting of industrial activities. As such sustainable methods of production and processing are of fundamental importance, not only from an economic stand point but also to improve the public perception of chemistry as a whole.

The emergence 15 to 20 years ago of membranes resistant to organic solvents has opened up a whole new field of separation technology to the chemical industries. A technology that can be applied to reducing the environmental impact of solvent based industrial processes. This presentation will outline the results obtained in order to achieve this goal, especially in the realms of chemistry encountered within the pharmaceutical industry. Using organic solvent Nanofiltration (OSN) and including membranes within a reactor set-up we have demonstrated their ability to have a positive effect not only on the environmental impact of a chemical process but also the reaction itself.

Results from two industrially relevant case studies will be presented, namely a macrocylisation and metal catalyzed reactions. Whereas, molecules containing macrocycles are becoming more prevalent as active pharmaceutical ingredients (API’s)[1] their large scale production is made costly and problematic by the fact that they must be performed at low concentration in order to favour the intramolecular cyclisation process over intermolecular oligomerization. This results in only small quantities of products being formed in large solvent volumes. By including a membrane within the process we have demonstrated the ability to perform this type of reaction with a significant reduction of the solvent required. Initial results also suggest a positive effect on reaction yields as compared to a more classic batchwise process.

Chemical reactions catalyzed by organometallic compounds have become more common within organic synthesis. A fact that has been reflected in the award of three Nobel prizes in chemistry since the turn of the millennium (i.e. in 2001, 2005 and 2010) for the discovery and development of reactions catalyzed by organometallic compounds. However, efficient as they are these catalysts are often expensive and the metals toxic resulting in the need for them to be efficiently removed and preferably recycled. Incorporating a membrane within a reaction set-up allows these catalysts to be used in a continuous or flow reactors leading not only to a concomitant increase in turn over number and a reduction of catalyst loading. But also allowing them to be used in the solution phase thus circumventing mass transfer problems associated with heterogeneous catalysts. Again initial results would suggest the membrane plays an active role in the progress of the reaction.


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