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Jan Schutz, Speaker at Catalysis Conference
DSM Nutritional Products, Switzerland
Title : Catalytic Routes to Vitamin A Acetate


Vitamin A is a lipid-soluble vitamin, which is essential for the vision process, growth, and cell functions. Dietary deficiency symptoms are e.g. reduced immune response and growth retardation in animals and night blindness in humans. On an industrial scale vitamin A is produced by chemical synthesis based on β-ionone. In 100 years of vitamin research only three vitamin A processes have been industrialized. All production processes apply stoichiometric reactions with activated reagents : which generate equimolar amounts of by-products. A direct catalytic route to vitamin A acetate  (avoiding protecting group chemistry) does not exist so far.
Several catalytic coupling reactions were investigated using compounds based on β-ionone as preferred starting material for the cyclohexene moiety of vitamin A acetate, in combination with a variety of other smaller (< C6) building blocks. With these methods, the use of stoichiometric coupling conditions resulting in the formation of equimolar amounts of waste streams can be avoided.


Jan Schütz studied in his diploma thesis at Stanford University in the group of Prof. R. Waymouth the synthesis and self-assembly of micellar block copolymers and their use as novel catalytic media. In his PhD thesis he investigated the synthesis and application of N-heterocyclic carbene metal complexes in catalysis in the group of Prof. W. A. Herrmnann at the Technical University of Munich. During his PostDoc at DSM Nutritional Products in the group of Dr. W. Bonrath he studied solid bases in aldol condensations to intermediates of vitamins. Since 2006 he is lab head at DSM Nutritional Products, Process Research in catalysis and organic synthesis of vitamins, nutraceuticals, and aroma ingredients. Special focus is on steroid chemistry, such as vitamin D3 and derivatives and in heterogeneous catalysis with focus on gas phase reactions.