The ESS DEULAB installed its first Parr reactor during the summer. The Parr reactor is capable of operating under conditions of high temperature (up to 350 °C) and high pressure (up to 131 bar) and is used in deuteration laboratories for hydrothermal, metal-catalysed H/D exchange reactions.
The first reaction performed in the DEULAB using the Parr reactor was the deuteration of lauric acid:
Under these conditions, lauric acid with 89% deuteration of the non-exchangeable hydrogen atoms was obtained. The deuteration incorporation was determined by analysis of the isotopologue ratios in the mass spectrum:
This process can be repeated to produce very highly deuterated lauric acid (>98% deuteration of the non-exchangeable hydrogen atoms). It is applicable to other saturated fatty acids and will facilitate the synthesis of many classes of deuterated molecules with fatty acid synthons, such as lipids and surfactants, at the ESS DEULAB.