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Catalyzing green chemistry

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9:17am, September 4, 2003

With a new, recyclable catalyst, chemical firms could cut down on the amount of waste generated in the manufacturing of products, according to researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y.

Industrial processes used for making products ranging from pharmaceuticals to pesticides rely heavily on catalysts, which speed the transformation of reactants into the desired chemical. But separating catalysts from final products typically requires expensive and sometimes-toxic solvents that companies later have to dispose of.

Morris Bullock and Vladimir Dioumaev at Brookhaven developed a tungsten-based catalyst for combining a ketone and an organic silicon compound to form an alkoxysilane. The tungsten catalyst automatically separates from the final product, which is a typical precursor used in making ceramics, drugs, and pesticides.

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