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Modern alchemists find environment friendly ways for drug production

Washington D.C. [USA], June 15 :
 Modern alchemists have been transforming environment friendly reactions for precious metals, which leads to a less negative impact on environment.

These transformations are cheaper and greener alternatives to replace platinum, rhodium and other precious metals in drug production and other reactions.

Researchers at Princeton University found a revolutionary approach that uses cobalt and methanol to produce epilepsy (neurological disorder) drug that previously required toxic solvents. The new reaction worked faster and more cheaply with less small environmental impact.

"Pharmaceutical discovery and process involve all sorts of exotic elements. Metals like rhodium and platinum are really expensive, but as the work has evolved, we realized that there's a lot more to it than simply pricing. There are huge environmental concerns if you think about digging up platinum out of the ground. Typically, you have to go about a mile deep and move 10 tons of earth. That has a massive carbon dioxide footprint," said Paul Chirik, a researcher.

One tricky aspect is that many molecules have right- and left-handed forms that react differently, with sometimes dangerous consequences.

Not only are base metals cheaper and much environmentally friendly than rare metals, but the new technique operates in methanol, which is much greener than the chlorinated solvents that rhodium requires.

The researchers also focused on "homogeneous catalysis," the term for reactions using materials that have been dissolved in industrial solvents.

The findings were published in the Journal of Science.

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