University of Huddersfield collaborates with Circa Group


Dr Jason Camp, scientist at University of Huddersfield and Circa Group, who produce the solvent Cyrene, investigate the potential of a greener way to produce medicines

Dr Jason Camp is investigating the potential of a non-toxic, environmentally sustainable solvent produced from waste cellulose, which promises to be a greener way to produce a wide range of medicines and other products.

The project has offered an exceptional opportunity for some of Camp's most talented students to take part in cutting edge, published research.

Dr Camp is a senior lecturer at the University’s Department of Chemical Sciences and has collaborated with Australian-based firm Circa Group, which produces the solvent, Cyrene.

Production of Cyrene is a joint venture between Circa and Norske Skog, the Norwegian pulp and paper manufacturer.

Many of the solvents currently used in chemical processes are problematic because they are toxic or pose environmental risks.

In the search for more sustainable, safer processes, cellulose-based Cyrene has emerged as a strong candidate and is proving to be a viable replacement for the more toxic polar aprotic solvents (NMP, DCM, DMAC).

The recent work undertaken by Dr Camp and his team has shown it can be used as a solvent in the synthesis of ureas — chemical compounds that are highly important in fields such as pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.

Tony Duncan, CEO at Circa, said: “The work Dr Camp and his team are doing is an important step towards further ‘greening’ the chemicals supply chain.

“These are important markets, and with the ongoing demand from society for safer products and processes, work like this from talented researchers is practical and highly valued. These initial results have shown very promising results and we will now work with the team to take the research to a developmental stage.”

The method eliminated the need for the use of toxic solvents or any non-bioderived organic solvent. Also, traces of Cyrene can be removed from the product by simple water treatment.

This phase of the Cyrene research was part-funded by the University of Huddersfield’s Collaborative Ventures Fund. Dr Camp is currently planning to take the work further with a Knowledge Transfer Partnership in conjunction with Circa’s UK subsidiary and is currently seeking backing from Innovate UK.

Co-authors of the Green Chemistry article are Tom Bousfield, a PhD researcher supervised by Dr Camp, Liam Mistry and Kopano Mapesa, chemistry undergraduates offered the opportunity to take part in the project, during which they carried out a large proportion of the lab work. Both now intend to move on to doctoral research.

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