Olefin metathesis catalysts
For the last four years, the EU-supported 'Olefin metathesis as a practical synthetic tool' (EUMET) consortium focused on studying a reaction called olefin metathesis (OM). OM is a catalytic reaction permitting the formation of carbon (C)–C double bonds to produce valuable products like polymers and novel alkenes. The method offers important savings in synthetic steps, eliminating the tedious and environmentally unfriendly classical protection and de-protection sequence. EUMET partners accomplished all their goals during the four years of the project. They designed and synthesised novel ruthenium-based OM catalyst precursors. Computation rationalisation of reactivity was used for optimisation and understanding of reaction mechanisms, and for catalyst evaluation in metathesis reactions. Finally, they scaled-up the synthesis for potential commercialisation of novel complexes displaying optimum catalyst performance for metathesis reactions. Successful project outcomes led to a total of 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Furthermore, EUMET members participated in important meetings presenting the latest advances in OM. The work carried out during the EUMET project has the potential to be used for great economic and social benefits. As a simple example of the impact of the work, the catalyst used in the production of anti-hepatitis C Simeprevir has saved an estimated 360 to 540 days in launching the drug. This time-saving alone can be estimated to have an economic impact of USD 360–540 million.