Organolithium belong to class of organometallic compounds which contain carbon-lithium bonds. Organolithiums are one of the major reagents used in organic synthesis mostly used to transfer the lithium atom or organic group through nucleophilic addition. Organolithium compounds are extremely reactive compounds and hence require specialized handling techniques. Being flammable and corrosive in nature these are stored at temperatures less than 10 °C. Organolithium find industrial applications largely in production of elastomers and in asymmetric synthesis widely used in pharmaceutical sector. The extreme polar nature of carbon-lithium bond makes organolithium strong bases suitable in various applications. The applications for organolithium largely include as reducing agents, catalyst or initiator for polymerization and catalysts for organic reactions. The market for organolithium is largely dominated by the U.S, followed by Europe and then Asia-Pacific market. The market for organolithium is largely affected by increased prices of raw materials used and also due to increased environmental regulations in developed nations. The application in form of catalysts acts as a prime driver for organolithium market.
The organolithium studies were pioneered by Georg Wittig, Henry Gilman and Karl Ziegler, who found that organolithium and other organometallics can perform various reactions at much higher rate as compared to other reagents. The nucleophilic organolithium form carbon-carbon bonds using carbonyl double bonds which further react with ketones to form alcohols. The lithium salts addition improves stereoselectivity of the reaction. The organolithium are also used in formation of ketones along with N-methoxy-N-methyl amides. Organolithium are also used in preparation of carboxyl acids which find large number of industrial applications like acetic acid is used in manufacture of dyestuffs or in preparation of vinegar, other acids are used preparation of pharmaceutical drugs like aspirin and phenacetin. Organolithium reagents can add carbonyl and its derivatives in presence of chiral ligands which is used basically in synthesis of various pharmaceutical compounds. Organolithium in form of butyllithium is mainly used as a polymerization initiator in production of SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene) and polybutadiene to form monomer which is important for production of synthetic rubber. Organolithium are also used in production of thermoplastics which are widely used in industrial as well as domestic applications including those like bottles, helmets, gloves, automobile interiors and fishing gears. Organolithium reagents are also used as an initiator for polymerization reaction leading to the production of large number of elastomers which find several applications in thermosetting plastics.
Organolithium belong to the family of organometalics which are used across the globe for varied applications including those of stabilizers, catalysts for chemical reactions and for synthesis of different polymers. The market for organolithium is largely dominated by the U.S. and European region. However the increased environmental regulations can lead to shift of production of these to developing countries in Asia. Also the other constraint for organolithium is the excessive price rise of raw material like lithium which can affect the development of the market for organolithium. The market for organolithium has steady growth rates across Europe and African countries. However organolithium are expected to grow at a rapid pace across Middle East owing to increase in production facilities in these regions. Asia Pacific and especially China is also expected to be the upcoming market for organolithium in the next six years.
The major players operating in the global organolithium market are Rockwood Lithium GmbH, Akzo nobel and Chemtura Corporation among others.
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