Russian Scientists have Come up with a Way to Reduce the Cost of the Synthesis of Drugs and Fertilizers
Hydrogen is a good electron donor, due to which it participates in a variety of chemical transformations. For example, after receiving electrons and giving up oxygen, acetic acid turns into ethyl alcohol, which has completely different properties. Similar reactions are widely used in industry, including the interaction of hydrogen with nitrogen is used in the production of fertilizers. However, hydrogen also has disadvantages, for example, low selectivity, in connection with which scientists are looking for alternative reducing agents.
Scientists from the A. N. Nesmeyanov Institute of Organoelement Compounds of the Russian Academy of Sciences proposed using synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide CO, as a reducing agent. Carbon monoxide is more selective, but less active than hydrogen. The mixture of these two reducing gases not only allowed them to combine their advantages, but also led to a synergistic effect, increasing productivity.
The authors tested the effectiveness of the proposed reducing agent in the amination reaction of organic compounds in practice. It turned out that the method allows obtaining only the pure desired product, while in the reaction using hydrogen, its yield was only 8%, and the remaining 92% were by-products. Scientists explained such low rates by the fact that hydrogen destroys the rhodium catalyst, without which this reaction is impossible, while synthesis gas creates favorable conditions for its efficient operation.
As a result, the authors hope that synthesis gas, an accessible intermediate product of many industries, will make it possible to simplify the synthesis of many pharmaceuticals, complex fertilizers, and other industrially important compounds.