For most synthesis and natural product chemists, flash chromatography is the primary tool for purification and isolation of compounds of interest. Purification methods include flash system defaulted linear gradients (e.g. 0-100%), active gradient modification (on-the-fly) during purification, and unique method creation based one either the chemist’s experience or TLC data (typically a linear gradient). Rarely do chemists work to optimize the purification to maximize target compound purity by employing a step gradient. In this post, I discuss the value optimized step gradients provide chemists.
Chemistry, by its very nature, involves the use of chemicals that can be harmful, toxic and potentially damaging to the environment, which means that drug discovery currently has a large and expensive environmental footprint. However, all is not lost. With a few small steps it is possible to make a big change to the impact that drug discovery has on our world. Let’s look at ways we can reduce the environmental impact of chemical processing and flash chromatography. This involves using green chemistry applications in the purification workflow to find a solution that reduces chemical waste to make it good for both the chemist and the environment.
Chromatographic purification methods such as flash chromatography can have a high environmental impact since they typically involve large quantities of harmful or toxic solvents run at high flow rates. In many laboratories the cost of procuring and then disposing of these solvents can be a major part of the overall cost of projects. For the chemist, trying to reduce the environmental impact of small molecule synthesis is part of being a good global citizen. Here are three strategies that greatly reduce the environmental impact of flash purifications. It can also save money in the long run by reducing the cost of chemical waste disposal.