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Chris Rayner

Professor of Organic Chemistry
Member of the Process Research and Development group

Contact details

Room: G52d
Tel: +44 (0)113 3436579


Chemistry in supercritical carbon dioxide
Capture and reactions of carbon dioxide
Synthetic photochemistry
Continuous reactions and reactors
Environmentally friendly coloration technology and polymerisation
Natural product synthesis and utilisation
Complex polyamines and their interactions with biomolecules

Photograph of Chris Rayner

Research interests

My research is in the following main areas:

The Chemistry of Carbon Dioxide.
We have been working on utilising carbon dioxide in synthetic organic chemistry and related applications for over 15 years. The current importance of CO2 and its chemistry cannot be overstated, and we have a range of important projects underway which include using supercritical CO2 as a solvent for pharmaceutical synthesis, utilisation of CO2 in novel crystallisation processes(with Prof. Kevin Roberts (School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering, University of Leeds), conversion of CO2 into C-1 building blocks (e.g. formic acid); and novel CO2 capture processes for sequestration and storage applications. We also have a joint project with Professor M. Arai (Hokkaido University) to determine the importance of fundamental interactions between CO2 and solutes in controlling reactions in CO2.

Novel reactor chemistry
Following on from our expertise in carrying out reactions in supercritical CO2, we are also interested in other ways of carrying out organic chemistry. A key aspect of this is to carry out reactions continuously rather than in a batch reaction. This allows a range of reactions to be carried out which are not feasible in a conventional batch reactor, but are capable of producing large amounts of material in continuous mode, and this work is particularly relevant to fine chemical and pharmaceutical process chemistry. Typical examples include novel photochemical and microwave accelerated processes, including polymerisation reactions (with Prof. Sebastien Perrier, University of Sydney).

New coloration technology
In collaboration with Dr Richard Blackburn (Centre for Technical Textiles, University of Leeds) and Dr Patrick McGowan (School of Chemistry, University of Leeds) we have a range of projects underway which focus on environmentally and user friendly coloration methods. This can involve the use and/or modification of natural dyes for specific consumer applications, or for the production of biodegradable and renewable (i.e. not from petrochemicals) coloured polymers (e.g. poly-lactic acid) of the future. Much of this work is carried out in conjunction with our University spin-out company, DyeCat Ltd.

Reactive intermediate chemistry
Reactive intermediates such as aziridinium ions are being exploited for the synthesis of polyamines capable of interacting selectively with nucleic acids (with Prof. Peter Stockley (Astbury Centre, University of Leeds)).

I am also very interested in teaching at the Chemistry - Chemical Engineering interface to enhance the effectiveness of research collaborations between chemists and chemical engineers. We run a 3 day short course, Chemistry for Chemical Engineers, accredited by the IChemE, designed to facilitate such interactions. From September 2008, as part of the recently established Institute for Process Research and Development will lead a new MSc in Chemical Process Research and Development in collaboration with colleagues from the School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering.

Useful links

Chemistry for Chemical Engineers   
Institute of Process Research and Development   

Selected publications

The Potential of Carbon Dioxide in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. Christopher M. Rayner, Organic Process Research & Development, 2007, 11, 121-132.

Novel catalytic materials and their use in the preparation of coloured polymeric materials. Richard S. Blackburn, Christopher M. Rayner, Christopher M. Pask and Patrick C. McGowan. PCT Int. Appl., 2007, 45pp, WO 2007052009.

Ultra-fast microwave enhanced reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization: monomers to polymers in minutes. Steven L. Brown, Christopher M. Rayner, Susan Graham, Andrew Cooper, Steven Rannard, and Sebastien Perrier. Chemical Communications, 2007, 2145-2147.

An Iterative Approach to Novel Polyamines via Nucleophilic Ring-Opening of Aziridinium Ions with beta-Amino Alcohols, C. McKay, R.J. Wilson and C.M Rayner, Chemical Communications, 2004, 1080 - 1081.