1 September 2010
The Leverhulme Trust have funded a £151K research project over three years, led by Dr. Ben Ward to investigate and develop new catalysts based upon calcium complexes. Catalysts are used in the manufacture of most chemical substances, and the vast majority contain rare and precious metals such as rhodium and palladium. The recycling process to recover these metals is often highly complex and expensive, but crucial if the use of these metals is to remain viable.
Calcium has come under increasing scrutiny over recent years since it is non-toxic and inexpensive, both of which are significant advantages over the rare and precious metals which are currently used. The use of calcium instead of precious metals would significantly reduce the environmental and economical impact of chemical manufacture. Whilst there have been several major breakthroughs in using calcium complexes as catalysts, progress in the use of calcium in asymmetric reactions has been much slower. The object of this research initiative is to propel calcium-based complexes into the arena of asymmetric catalysis, and to develop a new generation of catalysts which will reduce the reliance on precious metal resources.