Insights on recyclable catalytic system composed of task-specific ionic liquids for the chemical fixation of carbon dioxide†
A series of imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs) were synthesised and used as single component and metal-free homogeneous catalysts to convert a renewable, inexpensive and non-toxic CO2 feedstock into useful products. The cycloaddition of carbon dioxide to epoxides to produce cyclic carbonate was evaluated. A detailed investigation was carried out on a variety of factors that affected the reactivity and selectivity, such as the catalyst structures (nature of cation and anion). The effect of reaction parameters (temperature, reaction time, CO2 uptake and catalyst amount) on the catalytic performance was also investigated in detail. High conversions and selectivities could be achieved under mild pressure condition (5 bar) using 1-n-butyl-3-methylimidazolium bromide. A synergetic effect of the acidic and basic sites as well as suitable hydrogen-bonding strength is considered crucial for the reaction to proceed smoothly. This protocol was found to be applicable to a disubstituted epoxide. Furthermore, the straightforward synthesis of cyclic carbonates by direct oxidative carboxylation from olefins was achieved using only 1-n-butyl-3-methylimidazolium bromide as a catalyst.