Chemical bonds between C atoms are at the heart of the modern chemical manufacturing industry. Crucial to forming these bonds are organo-lithium reagents – carbon-lithium compounds that are used to produce polymers and pharmaceuticals. The EU-funded CAT. ASYMM. LITHIUM (Catalytic asymmetric C-C bond formation with organo-lithium reagents) project sought out new, cost-effective reactions that could be used for chemical synthesis. Researchers thus built on recent advances in catalysing C-C bond formation using organo-lithium compounds. Most organo-lithium compounds are highly reactive. To address this problem, the project team looked for ways to make reactions more selective. Scientists tested several different organo-lithium compounds, screening different chemical sources, reaction conditions and solvents to try to optimise the process. While several compounds were rejected because they were too reactive, CAT. ASYMM. LITHIUM chose one promising reaction for further optimisation. Researchers also investigated palladium as a catalyst for these reactions, as previous studies had shown some success in this regard. This approach yielded a reaction at room temperature over a short time period that is promising for commercial application. CAT. ASYMM. LITHIUM has screened a range of organo-lithium compounds and catalysts, and identified several promising and cost-effective new methods. This will lower costs for chemical manufacturing companies and lead to new chemical products.
Carbon bonds, chemical synthesis, organo-lithium reagents, pharmaceuticals, C-C bond formation