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A new catalyst for asymmetric-transfer-hydrogenation reactions

By Tetsuo Satoh |

The Fine Chemicals div. of Takasago International Corp. (Tokyo, Japan; www.takasago.com) has commercialized Deneb: Oxo-Tethered Ruthenium (II) Complex, which shows higher catalytic activities compared to conventional RuCl (arene)(N-sulfonylated diamine) catalyst systems. The higher activity enables a reduction in catalyst loading (down to 1/60th that of conventional catalysts), and thus lowers production costs for catalytic, asymmetric-transfer hydrogenation — an important reaction for making pharmaceuticals, fragrances and agrochemicals without H2. Because less expensive Ru is used instead of Rh, the cost of the catalyst is also expected to be one tenth that of alternative catalyst systems. Together with Professor Takao Ikariya at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (www.titech.ac.jp), the company has demonstrated that the new catalyst produces 2-phenethyl alcohol from acetophenone with 95% conversion efficiency, optical purity of 97% ee, and the reaction is two to three times faster than when conventional catalysts are used. The company says the new catalyst can also be used for substrates that were not accessible before, while achieving a higher enantioselectivity.
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