Synthesis and ProcessesDating back to prehistoric times with the discovery of bronze and iron, the practice of chemistry is intimately associated with the evolution of human history. In the modern world, we are surrounded by man-made materials in our daily lives; from medicines and personal care products to prevent and treat diseases and illness, agrochemicals (herbicides, insecticides) to improve the quality and quantity of food crops, materials to construct our laptops and cell phones (microprocessors and batteries), and polymers we use in almost everything - the clothes we wear, insulation, 3D-printing.

An ‘Ideal Synthesis’ is generally regarded as one in which the target molecule is prepared from readily available starting material in one simple, safe, environmentally acceptable and resource-effective operation, with minimum waste. This is particularly important for the chemical industry, where consumes large amounts raw materials and energy to meet the demand of the modern society.

The aim of the Synthesis and Processes pillar is to promote creative approaches to the development of reactions that will generate new chemical entities (NCI’s) with novel physical, chemical and biological properties. We also supporting innovative solutions to the scale up of reactions from the laboratory-scale to an industrial plant, in an efficient, cost-effective and sustainable way.

A chemical reaction is intrinsically a dynamic process, where the composition of a reaction mixture evolves over time as it converts starting material to products. The outcome of a reaction (yield and selectivity) is often highly dependent upon reaction conditions such as reaction stoichiometry, concentrations, temperatures, choice of solvents and reactants, as well as heat and mass transfer – all of which have a direct impact on the sustainability of the process. Thus, the future development of synthesis is dependent upon understanding how the reaction parameters interact – which is multidimensional problem.

The future of synthesis (‘Synthesis 4.0’) will involve a greater acceptance of automation, smart technologies and cyber-physical systems, which are becoming increasing prevalent in chemical research laboratories. These will empower Chemists and Chemical Engineers to employ a datascience-led approach to conduct experiments more efficiently and rapidly, transforming the landscape of chemical synthesis that is fit for the 21st Century.

Prof Klaus HellgardtProf Mimi Hii
Synthesis and Processes co-Lead  Synthesis and Processes co-Lead
Klaus Hellgardt  Mimi Hii 
Summary of the table's contents