Dimethyl carbonate: a versatile reagent for a sustainable valorization of renewables
Dimethyl carbonate (DMC) is an environmentally sustainable compound which can be used efficiently for the upgrading of several promising renewables including glycerol, triglycerides, fatty acids, polysaccharides, sugar-derived platform molecules and lignin-based phenolic compounds. This review showcases a thorough overview of the main reactions where DMC acts as a methylating and/or methoxycarbonylating agent for the transformation of small bio-based molecules as well as for the synthesis of biopolymers. All processes exemplify genuine green archetypes since they couple innocuous reactants of renewable origin with non-toxic DMC. Each section of the review provides a detailed overview on reaction conditions and scope of the investigated reactions, and discusses the rationale behind the choice of catalyst(s) and the proposed mechanisms. Criticism and comments have been put forward on the pros and cons of the described methods and their perspectives, as well as on those studies which still require follow-ups and more in-depth analyses.