Solution-phase catalysis using molecular transition metal complexes is an extremely powerful tool for chemical synthesis and a key technology for sustainable manufacturing. However, as the reaction complexity and thermal sensitivity of the catalytic system increase, engineering challenges associated with product separation and catalyst recovery can override the value of the product. This persistent downstream issue often renders industrial exploitation of homogeneous catalysis uneconomical despite impressive batch performance of the catalyst. In this regard, continuous-flow systems that allow steady-state homogeneous turnover in a stationary liquid phase while at the same time effecting integrated product separation at mild process temperatures represent a particularly attractive scenario. While continuous-flow processing is a standard procedure for large volume manufacturing, capitalizing on its potential in the realm of the molecular complexity of organic synthesis is still an emerging area that requires innovative solutions. Here we highlight some recent developments which have succeeded in realizing such systems by the combination of near- and supercritical fluids with homogeneous catalysts in supported liquid phases. The cases discussed exemplify how all three levels of continuous-flow homogeneous catalysis (catalyst system, separation strategy, process scheme) must be matched to locate viable process conditions.
|Pages (from-to)||1 - 26|
|Number of pages||26|
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences|
|Early online date||16 Nov 2015|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Dec 2015|