Evonik introduces technology for solvent-free API production

'Chemistry in Water’ or ‘micellar chemistry’ uses surfactants which form microscopic spheres in water, called micelles

Evonik is offering a green technology, which it calls ‘Chemistry in Water,’ to enable large-scale synthesis of APIs in water. The company claims the technology has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of drug manufacturing by minimising the need for large volumes of solvent and helping to simplify processes.

‘Chemistry in Water’ or ‘micellar chemistry’ uses surfactants which form microscopic spheres in water, called micelles. These function as nanoreactors and enable organic reactions, which are generally run in organic solvents, to be performed in water.

The integration of micellar chemistry into the company’s CDMO portfolio follows a collaboration with organic chemist Professor Bruce Lipshutz of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“Improving the environmental footprint for the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients is critically important for the sustainability of drug manufacturing going forward. It is a great pleasure to work with technology pioneer Professor Bruce Lipshutz and bring Chemistry in Water to commercial scale,” said Dr Stefan Randl, Head of Research, Development & Innovation for the Health Care business line of Evonik.

“After many years developing aqueous micellar chemistry, it is immensely rewarding to see industry applying and further developing its potential. I am confident that working closely with Evonik, as the first adopter for CDMO purposes, will pave the way for wider applications to industrial projects and overall, more sustainable chemistry,” said Prof Lipshutz.

Apart from reducing the need for organic solvents in organic reactions, micellar chemistry also has the potential to generate higher yields and increase selectivity under mild conditions, Evonik says. The company claims it has achieved reduction of catalyst loading, energy consumption and waste production using this approach for many reaction processes.

Evonik’s Health Care business is part of the life sciences division nutrition & care, for which sustainability is the guiding business principle, the company says.

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