Going Green in Process Chemistry: Optimizing an Asymmetric Oxidation Reaction to Synthesize the Antiulcer Drug Esomeprazole

Graeme D. McAllister, Andrew F. Parsons*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sustainable practices in process chemistry are highlighted by a novel, 9 week team project of 8-12 students, in collaboration with AstraZeneca chemists, in an organic chemistry laboratory. Students synthesize the antiulcer medicine esomeprazole, which involves the asymmetric oxidation of pyrmetazole. To provide insight into the modern process chemistry industry, they propose environmentally friendly modifications to the asymmetric oxidation. Students first synthesize pyrmetazole and then follow a standard oxidation procedure and carry out modified, greener reactions of their choice. They investigate how a change in reaction conditions affects both the yield and enantioselectivity of esomeprazole. Positive student feedback was received and student postlab reports were analyzed over a 4 year period (2015-2018). Results consistently showed that the project provided students with the key tools to develop greener syntheses. This contextual approach not only offers the opportunity to develop valuable communication and team-working skills, but it also gives students creative input into their experimental work. It teaches the important research skills involved in sustainable process chemistry, from reproducing and modifying a literature procedure to identifying green metrics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2617-2621
Number of pages5
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.


  • Asymmetric Synthesis
  • Green Chemistry
  • Inquiry-Based/Discovery Learning
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Problem Solving/Decision Making
  • Synthesis
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate

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