BSc-project description

Coach: Boelo Schuur

Enantioselective liquid-liquid extraction

Because 19 out of 20 natural amino acids are chiral compounds, many biological interactions are enantiospecific. That means, that if you make a drug for example that is chiral, often the two enantiomers behave different in the patient. A dramatic example is ethambutol, as S,S-ethambutol is the active ingredient of the drug agains tuberculosis, while R,R-ethambutol is causing blindness. Another example is lactic acid, which can be polymerized to polylactic acid (PLA), and the polymers from D-lactic acid and L-lactic acid have different properties.

The company Corbion makes also derivatives of lactic acid and offers us enantiopure ethylhexyl lactate, which might work as a chiral solvent. In this BSc-assignment you are going to investigate on the use of this solvent for a variety of racemates, including lactic acid and several amino acids, as well as naproxen.

One possibility is to apply this system in a membrane assisted extraction, a topic that is studied in collaboration with the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, in Basel. It is optional to spend a few weeks in Basel testing a chiral separation in a membrane module.

The main elements of this BSc project are:


Literature study on chiral extraction


Screening of possible chiral extraction systems


For a working system (if nothing is found, we take a system which we know already works), determine equilibrium constants.