Selective synthesis of dimethoxyethane via directly catalytic etherification of crude ethylene glycol
Etherification of ethylene glycol with methanol provides a sustainable route for the production of widely used dimethoxyethane; dimethoxyethane is a green solvent and reagent that is applied in batteries and used as a potential diesel fuel additive. SAPO-34 zeolite was found to be an efficient and highly selective catalyst for this etherification via a continuous flow experiment. It achieved up to 79.4% selectivity for dimethoxyethane with around 96.7% of conversion. The relationship of the catalyst's structure and the dimethoxyethane selectivity was established via control experiments. The results indicated that the pore structure of SAPO-34 effectively limited the formation of 1,4-dioxane from activated ethylene glycol, enhanced the reaction of the activated methanol with ethylene glycol in priority, and thus resulted in high selectivity for the desired products. The continuous flow technology used in the study could efficiently promote the complete etherification of EG with methanol to maintain high selectivity for dimethoxyethane.