Other variations of organic carbonates also exist. For instance, aliphatic polycarbonates are biodegradable and hence are medically important (4). They are also used as matrix materials, thermoplastic additives and films in addition to being used for the production of industrially important materials such as specialty polyurethanes (4). Glycerol based carbonate polymers also have a wide range of industrial, pharmaceutical and chemical applications. Polycarbonate esters and other carbonate polymers are used as antibacterial compounds and fluorescent tags in the biomedical field (5). The various routes of synthesis of linear and cyclic organic carbonates are represented schematically in figure 1. Figure 1: Various routes of organic carbonate synthesis and the commonly used building blocks (1). Phosgenation technique, oxidative carbonylation of phenols and alcohols, reaction of urea with phenols and alcohols, reaction of carbon dioxide and oxiranes, and transformation of inorganic metal carbonates are some of the most commonly used methods for synthesis of organic carbonates. The aim of this paper is to study the development of catalysts in the synthesis of organic carbonates.
Therefore, this paper will mainly focus on the types of catalysts used and the yield of organic carbonates while briefly discussing the various synthesis procedures.
However, it will be difficult to outline the development of catalysts for all organic carbonates over time. Therefore, to narrow down the research, the paper focuses on the catalysts used in the synthesis of dimethyl carbonate (DMC). DMC is the simplest organic carbonate and is one of the most industrially useful carbonates (2). It is also used for the synthesis of many other organic carbonates, apart from being used as an organic solvent and fuel additive. It is not ecotoxic and hence, is an environmentally benign compound. The report first provides a brief summary of catalysts used in the synthesis of various organic carbonates and the synthesis procedures.
It then goes on to explain the development of catalysts for DMC synthesis as well as the associated production processes. The yields of DMC using various catalysts and reaction conditions will then be reported and analyzed. This paper will thus report a review of the various catalysts used in organic carbonate synthesis over the years, will special emphasis on DMC.
3. Definitions and Review of Literature 3.1. Overview of Organic Carbonate Synthesis Organic carbonates are defined as carbonic acid esters that are characterized by two aryloxy or alkoxy groups flanking a carbonyl functional group (6).
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