WP5: Chemical Deuteration Meeting Held at ILL, Grenoble


Attendees (left-right): Peixun Li (ISIS), John Webster (ISIS), Kun Ma (ISIS), Marek Jura (ISIS), Jürgen Allgaier (FZJ), Hanna Wacklin (ESS), Robin Delhom (ILL), Giovanna Fragneto (ILL), Andreas Raba (FZJ), Anna Leung (ESS), Rachel Morrison (ILL).

January, 2017: A two-day SINE2020 Work Package 5: Chemical Deuteration meeting was recently hosted by the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France. The event was well-attended, with all of those from ISIS, ILL, FZJ and ESS involved in the Chemical Deuteration project joining the meeting.

Reports from each of the facilities, detailing progress made towards their projects and deliverable objectives, opened the meeting on 18th January. More information about the projects being undertaken by the Deuteration Network can be found here. Kun Ma, who recently joined the ISIS Deuteration Facility, was welcomed to the network.

Subsequent sessions were allocated to the discussion of a collaborative User Workshop for chemical deuteration, to be hosted by ISIS in Oxford, UK in May 2017; methods to survey the requirements of the neutron scattering community for deuterated chemicals; and strategies to ensure the sustainability of the Deuteration Network into the future.

Thank you to Rachel Morrison for orchestrating a very successful meeting, and for all members of the network for their attendance and enthusiastic contribution!


First Deuterated Molecule Produced at the Chemical Deuteration Lab, ESS

The chemical deuteration laboratory at ESS recently produced its first chemically deuterated molecule, sodium pyruvate-d3. It was produced by reacting pyruvic acid with deuterium oxide (D2O) and sodium bicarbonate:


Sodium pyruvate-d3 was analysed by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to determine the identity and purity of the molecule, and to quantify the deuteration at each carbon atom. From the 13C NMR spectrum, it was observed that the sample was highly deuterated, and that the integrity of the sample was maintained.


13C NMR spectrum showing a pattern indicative of deuteration at a carbon atom (25 ppm).

The high deuteration level was confirmed by mass spectrometry, with a peak observed at the value expected (90.0 atomic mass units).

mass spec.png

Mass spectrum showing the a signal at the expected atomic mass for pyruvate-d3 (90.0 amu), shifted by three atomic mass units from pyruvate (87.0 amu), which is consistent with the exchange of three 1H atoms for three 2H atoms.

The pyruvate ion (CH3COCOO) plays an important biochemical role, providing energy to cell via a series of chemical reactions known as the Krebs cycle. It is also a substrate for the lactate dehydrogenase enzyme, from which lactic acid is produced during normal metabolism and exercise. For the chemical deuteration laboratory, sodium pyruvate-d3 will serve as a precursor to deuterated lactic acid-d4. Lactic acid-d4 is a chiral molecule and so exists in two forms, D-lactic acid-d4 and L-lactic acid-d4; the use of an enzyme to produce lactic acid-d4 from sodium pyruvate-d3 will allow us to produce one or the other, instead of a mixture of both which would have to be separated.