COST concerted research action on high pressure tuning of chemical and biochemical processes

May 24, 2002

Brussels, 23 May 2002

Draft Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of a European Concerted Research Action designated as COST Action D30 "High Pressure Tuning of Chemical and Biochemical Processes." European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research - COST Secretariat. Brussels, 22 May 2002 (document COST 239/02). Full text

1. The Action will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of document COST 400/01 "Rules and Procedures for Implementing COST Actions", the contents of which the Signatories are fully aware of.

2. The main objective of the Action is to stimulate the tuning of chemical and biochemical processes through the application of high pressure as a physical variable, in order to achieve lower energy consumption, less pollution and higher selectivity in chemical and biochemical transformations, and production of new materials with better properties.

3. The economic dimension of the activities carried out under the Action has been estimated, on the basis of information available during the planning of the Action, at Euro 90 million in 2002 prices.

4. The Memorandum of Understanding will take effect on being signed by at least five Signatories.

5. The Memorandum of Understanding will remain in force for a period of five years, calculated from the date of the first meeting of the Management Committee, unless the duration of the Action is modified according to the provisions of Chapter 6 of the document referred to in Point 1.



A1. Why a COST Action for this topic?

Recent initiatives within the European Research Area have been made to stimulate research in such fields as life sciences, chemical catalysis, nano-science and nano-technology, and have been supported by the alliance for chemical sciences and technologies in Europe (AllChemE). These initiatives are predicted to have a global impact and will promote sustainable development as well as defining new roles for chemistry and chemical engineering. Within this concept, the tuning of chemical and biochemical processes through the exploration/investigation/use/application of pressure as a physical variable can play an important and decisive role.

High pressure is an important tool in the development of a range of disciplines, and warrants interest both in terms of its fundamental science and in the development of new methods in applied research. In chemistry, two different approaches can be considered: Solution Chemistry (inorganic, organic chemistry and biochemistry) and Solid State Chemistry (novel materials, nano-tubes, supramolecular chemistry).

In fluid phase chemistry the application of high pressure kinetic and thermodynamic techniques has often been a key element in the elucidation of chemical reaction mechanisms. Clarification of such mechanisms enables a systematic tuning of processes for synthetic application in areas such as the development of new contrast agents for magnetic imaging (MRI), homogeneous catalysis, enantio-selective synthesis, drug design and preparation of new compounds. Knowing the mechanism allows systematic electronic and steric modifications of the participating molecules. Reactions often exhibit a characteristic pressure dependence, which can be exploited to tune not only the reactivity, but also reversibility and product distribution of the process. The know-how developed in this area is in the hands of a few well-equipped laboratories in Europe; these laboratories provide the potential for new technological developments and hold world-wide leadership in this area. In addition, pressure tuning applied to gaseous or liquid reaction media can result in unique solvent properties coupled to high chemical turnover and selectivity.

It should be noted that reactions involving biopolymers, viruses and cells often show effects that are absent in the reactions of small molecules. Among these, protein denaturation is an important topic.

Changes in the conformation of proteins may give rise to several important structures that are of biotechnological relevance. Protein-protein interaction is certainly one of the most important effects which have recently been related to several molecular diseases. Fundamental differences have been observed between the effects of temperature and pressure, knowledge which may be lead to useful applications especially in the pharmaceutical and the medical fields. The exploration of the effects of pressure in the developing fields of genomics, proteomics and metabolomics is only at the beginning.

In Materials Chemistry, high pressure plays an important role both in chemical bonding and on the adopted structure. Consequently, for the same chemical composition the resulting physical properties of the material are strongly pressure dependent.

The new results achieved recently in the fields of high pressure research, methodology and industrial applications, require concentrated efforts in order to achieve efficient exploitation. The envisaged integration of research laboratories developing and applying high pressure techniques in a European Network, will strengthen this development and enhance the accessibility of the available know-how within the European context...

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