Recent advances in dialkyl carbonates synthesis and applications
Dialkyl carbonates are important organic compounds and chemical intermediates with the label of “green chemicals” due to their moderate toxicity, biodegradability for human health and environment. Indeed, owing to their unique physicochemical properties and versatility as reagents, a variety of phosgene-free processes derived from CO or CO2 have been explored for the synthesis of dialkyl carbonates. In this critical review, we highlight the recent achievements (since 1997) in the synthesis of dialkyl carbonates based on CO and CO2 utilization, particularly focusing on the catalyst design and fabrication, structure–function relationship, catalytic mechanisms and process intensification. We also provide an overview regarding the applications of dialkyl carbonates as fuel additives, solvents and reaction intermediates (i.e. alkylating and carbonylating agents). Additionally, this review puts forward the substantial challenges and opportunities for future research associated with dialkyl carbonates.