For the production of drugs, pesticides and smartphone screens, most processes are expensive and generate a lot of waste. Scientists at the University of Göttingen have now been able to develop a "green" resource-saving alternative. The results were published in Nature Catalysis.
The ecologically correct strategy developed by Professor Lutz Ackermann and his team at the Institute of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry at the University of Göttingen offers great advantages over existing methods. Naturally occurring non-toxic metal manganese is employed instead of noble transition metals such as palladium or platinum. Traditionally, organic solvents, which are highly flammable and toxic, have also been used. In contrast, the new approach makes use of environmentally friendly water. This is possible because a manganese carbon bond is formed in the reaction. Such bonding is considerably more stable than comparable bonds between carbon and highly reactive lithium or magnesium metals.
"The new process enables the cleavage of a single strong carbon-carbon bond, from which organic compounds contain a large number and make it the desired product," says Ackermann. To achieve the results, experimental laboratory investigations were combined with computer aided calculations. "This allowed us to get a detailed look at the exact mode of catalyst action, which in turn allows us to use the process to make other materials."