Investigating the extraction of residual palladium in the pharmaceutical industry

University of Strathclyde

In building complex molecules within the pharmaceutical industry, metal catalysts enable scientists to carry out chemical transformations which would otherwise be challenging to achieve. However, this approach can also result in the contamination of products with impurities such as palladium. Recovering this valuable metal from these products is not only necessary for regulatory reasons, but due to geopolitical instabilities the UKs palladium supply has become volatile, with prices reaching an all-time high of £81,179 per kilogram in February 2022.

Currently, the process of removing these metals remains poorly understood, there are also numerous literature reports on inconsistent removal of palladium. To tackle this issue, Marina is investigating the factors influencing the extraction of palladium from pharmaceutically relevant reaction solutions, while identifying and addressing knowledge gaps in the metal scavenging processes.

With current methods of palladium removal lacking generality, the goal is to generate an extraction workflow applicable to all systems, which would reduce the time and costs related to the pharmaceutical industry. Understanding how palladium can be recovered in an efficient manner will not only deliver reliable processes able to meet the demands of the market when it comes to the production of goods, but it will also result in economic and environmental benefits in line with the goals of the chemical industry.


Marina has always been fascinated by pharmaceutical research and development, for its impact on our daily lives – both in the form of delivering new drugs to the market or answering questions regarding chemical problems which are not well understood. Growing up in Cyprus, where the pharmaceutical sector is very small, drove Marina to pursue an MChem Degree with an industrial placement at the University of Edinburgh. There she had the opportunity to experience research first-hand.