Taking a Lead with Fluorine
Two grants were awarded recently to organofluorine
chemists at the University of Leicester by the Department of Trade and Industry
The grants form part of the DTI’s Manufacturing
Molecules Initiative (MMI), which was established to consolidate and advance the
UK’s position as a leading manufacturer of complex, high value chemicals.
chemicals impact on almost every impact of consumer life and the country’s
economy, through agrochemical, pharmaceutical, semiconductor and
telecommunications industries. For
example, up to 20% of new drug molecules in clinical trials contain one or more
fluorine atoms. The challenge lies in
getting the correct numbers of fluorine atoms into the right locations, which is
the chemists’ role.
The MMI is funding a Technology Transfer Forum and a
Pilot Study, both based in the Department of Chemistry and led by Professor
The Technology Transfer Forum brings the Leicester
group together with groups in Durham, Oxford and UMIST.
A Technology Translator employed by the Forum will help us to identify
the key technologies needed by industry to secure the next generation of
important fluorinated molecules.
Professor Percy said: “Important issues include the
identification of new fluorinated raw materials and the development of
chemistries that allow complex fluorinated molecules to be manufactured with
minimal environmental impact.
“Even the way we carry out chemistry has to change,
as we learn to use new reaction technologies like coherent microwave synthesis
equipment, and continuous-flow microreactors to speed up and clean up chemical
“We will organise workshops and masterclasses to
train young researchers in the key technologies, and will seek to procure long
term industrial and EU support to secure UK and European competitiveness on
equal terms with the large American and Japanese groups in the field.”
The Pilot study employs a post-doctoral worker for 6
months within the research group of Professor Percy. The project concerns the development of chemistry that allows the
syntheses of valuable fluorinated intermediates under more acceptable reaction
The project involves the scale-up of some important
academic chemistry to demonstrate its industrial potential, and afford access to
new types of molecules for use within drug substances.
The funding also allows the acquisition of some important equipment for
Commenting on the two awards, Professor Percy said:
“This is a great opportunity for us to raise the profile of UK organofluorine
chemistry on the world stage and we hope that UK industry will get behind the
initiative and help us to reach our goals”.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
information is available from Professor J M Percy, telephone 0116 252 2140, fax
0116 252 3789, email email@example.com
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.