Applying Organic Chemistry (1987)
By Robert KertonJuly 1st, 1987
For 50 years, CSIRO has been engaged in research into organic chemistry. Over that period, the Division of Applied Organic Chemistry has accumulated a vast store of information and understanding in this field. The Division has also been able to work with industry, using its knowledge and skills to create opportunities and solve problems.
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Narrator: For 50 years CSIRO has been engaged in research into organic chemistry.
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It’s established a wealth of experience and a range of facilities unique in Australia.
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CSIRO’s Division of Applied Organic Chemistry encourages Australian industry to share and capitalise on these resources.
It’s committed to working with Australian industry to design, synthesise and test organic compounds and to improve the processes involved in their manufacture.
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The range of industries whose operations include the manufacture or use of organic compounds is enormous.
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Some are involved in the production of plastics, rubber or paint or products composed of polymers.
Some manufacture high value chemicals such as pharmaceuticals or crop protection chemicals.
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Others formulate specialty chemical such as detergents, disinfectants, insecticides, fungicides and so on.
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The resources of CSIRO Applied Organic Chemistry are of potential benefit to all these companies.
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Tom Reynolds: Well we’ve seen a worldwide for new disinfectants as organisms in hospitals have become more resistant due to the widespread use of antibiotics. And hospital administrators and their patients today need a new persistent, safe and pleasant to use disinfectant with a broad spectrum of activity to deal with the problems which are emerging in their hospitals today.
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Narrator: Disinfectants are manufactured internationally by Gibson Chemicals as part of a comprehensive range of specialty chemicals.
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Research and development is an important part of the operations at Gibson Chemicals, however the search for a novel disinfectant demanded highly specialised facilities.
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Tom Reynolds: We approached CSIRO because we found out that they were doing work relevant to the areas that interested us and of course they have magnificent research facilities which really can’t be matched by a company of our size. And so to us they’re an absolutely ideal partner to work with to develop these new sophisticated chemical substances.
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They also have experienced staff in computer modelling of molecules which is pretty advanced science, the sort of science you only find in high tech research institutes and the sort of science which is rarely found in industry. And it’s that facility which makes CSIRO such a desirable partner.
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Narrator: In designing and synthesising new organic compounds CSIRO draws on the specialist knowledge and techniques which it has built up over the last half century. Computer simulation is used to design the compounds and the chemical routes for synthesising them.
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For a compound to be of commercial value an economic route for synthesis must be found. CSIRO has complete facilities for scaling up the process from micro-laboratory level to large laboratory scale for commercial process development.
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Sophisticated analytical techniques are an essential part of this scaling up procedure.
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CSIRO has a wide range of up to date equipment for this purpose.
These particular facilities are one of the reasons why the resources of CSIRO Applied Organic Chemistry are useful for smaller companies as well as large.
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Graham Parker: Before we started we saw the CSIRO as being a very large research organisation that would only be interested and would only be able to work on long term and expensive projects. We found that this is not the case. They can accommodate small projects and small companies without an unlimited amount of research and development finance available.
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Narrator: Southern Dental Industries manufacture and market an advanced range of products for the dental profession.
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When it came to adding a dentine adhesive to their product range they decided they wanted one that was significantly better than any other in the world.
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CSIRO’s background in polymer research was directly relevant.
Potential adhesives are being designed, synthesised and evaluated under a tripartite agreement involving Southern Dental Industries, CSIRO and The Australian Dental Standards Laboratory.
Graham Parker: Southern Dental Industries’ involvement in this project has been in the way of funding and also to supply a research chemist who’s been dividing her time between the ADSL laboratories and the CSIRO laboratories.
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And during the 12 months that we’ve been involved in this project we have achieved a dentine adhesive which will be most competitive on international markets and we’ll be marketing that product in the very near future.
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Narrator: Through its own long term research programs CSIRO has accumulated a vast store of information and understanding in the field of organic chemistry. Its special value lies in its ability to apply this warehouse of knowledge to specific projects initiated by industry.
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Roger Dunhill: The vapour cure process is a low temperature process for curing paint films and other surface coatings using an airborne catalyst. Albright and Wilson has an interest in this area in that we are manufacturers of acrylic resins and we are trying to develop superior performance resins for this novel process.
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CSIRO has been most useful to us in this collaboration because of their acrylic polymer technology and research carried on at the Division of Applied Organic Chemistry.
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Narrator: Albright and Wilson manufacture acrylic polymers for a wide range of surface coating and bonding applications as well as surface active agents and phosphate chemicals.
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Roger Dunhill: As well as the work that’s being carried out at CSIRO we have been allocating our own R&D resources to this project, that is our laboratory facilities and personnel.
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But in addition we have found it very useful to be able to second our research staff to work with the research group at CSIRO.
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The joint research has already enabled us to capitalise on some of our own previous research and we are quite confident of having some successful resins commercialised in the near future.
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This is one of the real advantages of the collaboration is giving us innovative new ways of looking at our research.
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Narrator: Joint projects can be shaped to suit the individual needs of each client company.
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In some cases considerable R&D resources can be contributed by the client company itself.
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In other cases a client’s own R&D resources don’t include the sort of in-depth skills required for a particular project.
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Sometimes a company has the resources but has already allocated them to other projects.
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The CSIRO’s contribution may be as simple as preparing known organic compounds for subsequent use in the client company’s own research.
Whatever the project , confidentiality is naturally of paramount importance.
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CSIRO is keen to provide its resources to enable Australian industry to gain and maintain a competitive edge in international markets.
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Many companies have already established joint projects. There are thousands of others which would profit from collaboration.
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