Organometallic compounds were discovered in the 18th century, but at that time it was more a matter of a limited number of substances being explored in experiments. Not until the 20th century has organometallic chemistry gained recognition as an independent field of chemistry.
It evades the classical division into organic and inorganic chemistry. Rather, work with organometallic compounds represents an overlap of the two areas. Depending on which substances and processes are currently in focus, there is even talk of a separate field: organometallic chemistry.
Strictly defined, in organometallic compounds an organic ligand is bound directly to a metal atom. Today, however, the definition is broadened and derivatives as to such elements are included, too, which do not form a metal in the elementary state, but also have a low electronegativity. Examples being boron or silicon. Organometallic compounds thus consist of at least one carbon atom and at least one metal atom (or in the broader definition, an electropositive element atom).
Whatever the definition, organometals often carry risks: Flammable and sometimes self-igniting, they exhibit violent reaction processes, and are toxic or hazardous to the environment. Strict regulations demand responsible handling; and the burdens placed on companies are correspondingly high.
Despite the associated challenges, the demand for organometallic compounds is considerable – they play a role in the synthesis of numerous substances, from simple basic chemicals and polymers to the production of many drugs; organometallic catalysts make many products possible – or they ensure that production is economical.
In order to meet increased demand, the chemical industry is faced with the task of demanding production: both raw materials and end products are often difficult to manage. In the production of organometals, the starting materials are usually processed under the exclusion of air and moisture – in stirred tanks under nitrogen. The inert atmosphere allows the actual reaction between the starting materials to take place. The presence of oxygen would slow it down or prevent it. It also eliminates spontaneous ignition of the flammable components that are produced.
Organometallics is an active field of research, frequently brought to the forefront of public attention by the awarding of several prizes – 7 Nobel Prizes in the thematic field as a whole – 3 of them since the 2000s.
Ongoing research has economic implications. A good example of this is the work of Grubbs, Schrock and Chauvin. In 2005, they were honored with the Nobel Prize for their discovery of the Grubbs-named catalyst and its application in olefin metathesis. The economic importance arises from the significantly higher activity and versatility of the Grubbs catalyst compared to previously used alternatives.
Thus, innovation in research on organometallic compounds contributes to improving production processes and making them more economical and efficient.
At BNT, we have the facilities and expertise to scale up new ideas and procedures, apply them to contract manufacturing, or work with customers on development. Our wealth of experience with tin also provides an optimal starting point for projects in the field of organometallics, which can benefit from our extensive process knowledge.
We can assist you in high-vacuum distillation, Grignard reactions and polymerization reactions, as well as in the handling of chlorine. Other processes and basic chemical operations, such as filtration, mixing or distillation, are of course part of the portfolio.