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Issue 4, 2011
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Decarboxylation of dialkyl carbonates to dialkyl ethers over alkali metal-exchanged faujasites

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Abstract

Non-toxic DAlCs, especially lighter dimethyl- and diethyl-carbonate, are regarded as very green alkylating reagents, particularly when coupled with metal-exchanged Y- and X-faujasites as catalysts. These reactions are selective, free from wastes or byproducts, and often require no additional solvent other than the carbonate. Nonetheless, this paper demonstrates that the operating temperature and the nature of the faujasite must be carefully chosen in order to avoid DAlC decomposition. In fact, at temperatures ranging from 150 to 240 °C, faujasites can promote decarboxylation of light DAlCs to the corresponding ethers CH3OCH3 and CH3CH2OCH2CH3 plus CO2. Heavier DAlCs (dipropyl- and dioctyl-carbonate) undergo a similar decomposition pathway, followed by further reactions to the corresponding alcohols (n-propanol and n-octanol) and alkenes [propylene and octene(s)]. These transformations not only consume DAlCs, but also give rise to dangerously flammable ethers, as well as undesirable alcohols, alkenes and CO2. The present work reports an original investigation of the decarboxylation of DAlCs on faujasites with the aim of providing operative boundaries to the experimental conditions to minimise unwanted decomposition. The reaction is strongly affected by the nature of the catalyst: the more basic zeolites, NaX and CsY, are by far more active systems than NaY and LiY. However, solid K2CO3 proves to be rather inefficient. The temperature also plays a crucial role: for example, the onset of the decarboxylation of DMC requires a temperature of ∼30 °C lower than that for DEC and DPrC. Overall, awareness that certain zeolites cause decomposition of DAlCs under conditions similar to the ones used for DAlC-promoted alkylations allows determination of the correct experimental boundaries for a safer and more productive use of DAlCs as alkylating agents.

Graphical abstract: Decarboxylation of dialkyl carbonates to dialkyl ethers over alkali metal-exchanged faujasites

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
10 Sep 2010
Accepted
08 Dec 2010
First published
25 Jan 2011

Green Chem., 2011,13, 863-872
Article type
Paper

Decarboxylation of dialkyl carbonates to dialkyl ethers over alkali metal-exchanged faujasites

M. Selva, M. Fabris and A. Perosa, Green Chem., 2011, 13, 863
DOI: 10.1039/C0GC00536C

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