Catalysts from chalk
3 December 2009
The research group of Dr. Ben Ward have been awarded £100,900 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop environmentally friendly catalysts based upon calcium, as potential alternatives to rare and expensive metal catalysts. The alkaline earth metals, particularly calcium, have recently been shown to be active in catalytic reactions, and the objective of the Cardiff group is to make new catalysts which are chiral, thus allowing chiral molecules to be prepared selectively in either the left- or right-handed form. Owing to their high natural abundance and low toxicity, the alkaline earth metals are ideally positioned to make a ground-breaking contribution to "Green Catalysis", as chemists seek to develop new and emerging technologies to render existing chemical processes cleaner whilst reducing costs. Should the catalysts enable stereocontrol over the reaction products, this will open the door for further developments in asymmetric catalysis using Group 2 metals, moving a step closer to cleaner and inexpensive catalytic processes.