Friday, March 29, 2013
Azide chemistry, energetic chemistry, hazardous chemistry, click chemistry
The spring-loaded energetic chemicals, azides and acetylenes, provide the necessary driving force of the "ideal" and non-stoppable triazole formation reaction, the most prominent of click chemistry concept. It is practiced in many academic groups worldwide, maybe in some pharmaceutical, biotech companies as well. Azides are often used to introduce amino groups in organic synthesis. Scanning any issue of JACS or JOC, one would see a bunch.
In discovery chemistry where properties are sought, azide chemistry is good, click chemistry is wonderful.
When it comes to pharmaceutical or fine chemicals production, however, one tries to avoid azides as much as possbile, simply due to the very energetic nature of it. Azides are hazardous, no question about it - particularly when it come to large scale production.
The avoidance however could add more steps of synthesis. Not good.
Double edged sword. Something has to give?
A few companies have had success with many hazardous chemistries, up to metric ton scale. This competence separates them from competition. Extensive testing helps: impact & friction sensitivity, thermal stability, dust explosivity, reaction calorimetry. Stepwise scale-up helps: from lab to kilolab to pilot to plant. Engineering with prevention and in-case scenario in mind helps. Everyone's commitment and best training helps. Seamless work as a team helps.
One day when a product by azide click chemistry is so successful and needs to be made by tons, it can be made.