Production of pharmaceuticals: amines from alcohols in a continuous flow fixed bed catalytic reactor

Gareth W Lamb, Firas A Al Badran, Jonathan M J Williams, Stanislaw T Kolaczkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (SciVal)


This paper reports the use of an immobilised ruthenium complex in a continuous flow process for the N-alkylation of morpholine with benzyl alcohol. The ruthenium-based catalyst was supported on a phosphine bound polymer. Screening experiments were first performed in a batch reactor, with a 16 vol% mixture of morpholine and benzyl alcohol (stoichiometric molar ratio of 1:1) in toluene as the solvent. Operating at 110 degrees C for 24 h, it was shown that high conversions (>99%) into the desired tertiary amine could be achieved. This reaction was then shown to be viable in a continuous flow reactor, where the catalytic polymer beads were retained in the bed. Operating at 150 degrees C and using p-xylene as a solvent, the conversion into the desired tertiary amine was shown to be as high as 98%. This approach is clearly very promising, as it provides a greener and more atom efficient route for the production of secondary and tertiary amines in the pharmaceutical industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1533-1540
Number of pages8
JournalChemical Engineering Research & Design
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • continuous pharmaceutical processing
  • production of amines
  • morpholine
  • N-Alkylation of amines using alcohols
  • borrowing hydrogen


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