Latvian scientists develop new method of chemical synthesis

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Scientists of Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (OSI) are working on a quicker, cheaper and more environmentally friendly method of chemical synthesis, Latvian Television reported February 11.

New methods for the synthesis of chemicals are essential for the development of medical and other chemical industries. Today, these methods are increasingly meant to be more resource-intensive, more environmentally friendly and also cheaper. 

Many chemical industries use organic compounds. They are needed both to produce medicines, for example, fertilizers, and to create a variety of materials available all around us.

“In order to obtain these substances, different methods should be used. We are in the process of developing these methods,” lead scientiest Liene Grigorjeva said.

She has been working on new methods to get organic compounds in a faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly manner since 2016. Significant results have been achieved over four years.

“Typically precious metals catalysts are used in these types of reactions. Usually palladium, ruthenium, rhodium. These metals are very expensive because they are uncommon in nature. In our method, precious metals catalysts are replaced with cobalt. Cobalt is a naturally distributed metal. This has significantly lower toxicity. It is more widely available in different salt forms,” explained the scientist.

Grigorjeva and colleagues have succeeded in developing new methods for the synthesis of chemicals. In this way, one can obtain both existing, well known compounds and new compound classes that have not previously been studied.

“Let's assume we have compounds that treat headache. So far, we achieved them in ten stages and it took two weeks. If we use our method, we can get it in three days and the cost is 10 times cheaper,” Liene Grigorjeva said.

In the future, it is likely that the methods will be applied to industry worldwide. The same medicines will be produced in a cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly way.

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