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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P013341/1
Title: Photo-Electro: Transforming Chemical Synthesis, Discovery and Manufacture
Principal Investigator: George, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Booker-Milburn, Professor KI Harrowven, Professor DC Morvan, Dr H
Lennox, Dr AJJ Poliakoff, Professor M Pickering, Professor SJ
Brown, Professor RCD Licence, Professor P Jefferson-Loveday, Dr R J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
ANSYS (International) AstraZeneca Asynt
Britest Limited Cambridge Reactor Design Ltd Centre for Process Innovation CPI (UK)
Eli Lilly and Company (International) Enlumo Ltd Givaudan (International)
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) HEL Limited Knowledge Transfer Network Limited
Merck Ltd Novartis Quotient Sciences Limited
SanofiAventis Deutschland GmbH Syngenta Thomas Swan
Unilever Uniqsis Ltd
Department: Sch of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 06 February 2017 Ends: 05 August 2023 Value (£): 6,486,390
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Asymmetric Chemistry Catalysis & Applied Catalysis
Chemical Synthetic Methodology Design of Process systems
Manufact. Enterprise Ops& Mgmt Reactor Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Chemicals Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 Nov 2016 Programme Grant Interviews 2 and 3 November 2016 (Physical Sciences) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Our vision is to use continuous photochemistry and electrochemistry to transform how fine chemicals, agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals are manufactured in the UK. We aim to minimize the amount of chemicals, solvents and processing steps needed to construct complex molecules. We will achieve this by exploiting light and/or electricity to promote more specific chemical transformations and cleaner processes. By linking continuous photochemistry and electro-chemistry with thermal flow chemistry and environmentally acceptable solvents, we will create a toolkit with the power to transform all aspects of chemical synthesis from initial discovery through to chemical manufacturing of high-value molecules.

The objective is to increase efficiency in terms of both atoms and energy, resulting in lower cost, low waste, low solvent footprints and shorter manufacturing routes. Historically photo- and electro-chemistry have been under-utilised in academia and industry because they are perceived to be complicated to use, difficult to scale up and engineer into viable processes despite their obvious environmental, energy and cost benefits. We will combine the strategies and the skills needed to overcome these barriers and will open up new areas of science, and deliver a step-change (i) providing routes to novel molecular architectures, hard to reach or even inaccessible by conventional methodologies, (ii) eliminating many toxic reagents by rendering them unnecessary, (iii) minimizing solvent usage, (iv) promoting new methodologies for synthetic route planning. Our proposal is supported by 21 industrial partners covering a broad range of sectors of the chemistry-using industries who are offering £1.23M in-kind support.

Therefore, we will study a broad range of reactions to provide a clear understanding of the most effective areas for applying our techniques; we will evaluate strategies for altering the underlying photophysics and kinetics so as to accelerate the efficiency of promising reactions; we will transform our current designs of photochemical and electrochemical reactors, with a combination of engineering, modelling and new fabrication techniques to maximize their efficiency and to provide clear opportunities for scale-up; we will exploit on-line analytics to accelerate the optimisation of continuous photochemical and electrochemical reactions; we will design and build a new generation of reactors for new applications; we will identify the most effective strategies for linking our reactors into integrated multi-step continuous processes with minimized waste; we will demonstrate this integration on at least one synthesis of a representative pharmaceutical target molecule on a larger scale; we will apply a robust series of sustainability metrics to benchmark our approaches against current manufacturing.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk