By: Alix Shamir 11/23/15
Dimethyl Carbonate (DMC) , is a raw sustainable material for green chemistry. DMC is used as a solvent, but is being engineered to be a raw material from using CO2. The reason DMC is very beneficial is because it is an ecofriendly alternative to methyl halides and phosgene methylation. DMC is a true green reagent because this versatile compound possesses properties of no toxicity and biodegradability.
The reason DMC is a green solvent is because it is synthesized by using CO2. CO2 is combined with hydrogen to produce methanol. Once methanol is synthesized, the reaction continues with CO2 to produce DMC. Another way to synthesize DMC is by using biomethanol and converting into DMC. Before, DMC was made with Phosgene. Phosgene is an extremely toxic and dangerous chemical. The eco-friendly route to generate DMC was to eliminate the phosgene and minimize side-products. Currently, there are many studies and exploration to make phosgene-free diemethyl carbonate. To create DMC phosgene-free requires a high-end catalytic process technology. The main push is to create an efficient rout to create DMC from CO2.
On the other hand, DMC is extremely useful as a raw material. One of the reasons DMC is highly sought after is because the chemical has a low-cost product and can be widely used with low toxicity. Additionally, DMC has high production rate and has easily disposable by-products. DMC is seen as a “green” product because it was a biodegradability of >90% at 28 days. Furthermore, DMC is a great non-toxic reagent. DMC does not produce any inorganic salts and the leaving group is methyl carbonate. This feature of the leaving group can be utilized in continuous-flow like gas-liquid phase-transfer catalysis. Another reason why DMC is so useful is that the reaction is not at equilibrium. The production of the products can be controlled by temperature and pressure. Lastly, DMC has a very selective behavior because it can act as an alkylating or carboxymethylating agent. Since DMC is an electrophile, it has three reactive centers it can interact with a nucleophile (carbonyl, and two methyl groups). Carbonyl group on DMC is a better electrophile because it’s polarized positive charge and sp2 hybridization. One of the interesting uses of DMC as a raw material is to produce a lithium battery electrolyte.
DMC can be used from pesticides to pharmaceuticals. DMC makes ciprofloxacin, which is an antibiotic. One of the other main use of DMC is to make polyprotlene carbonate (PPC). PPC is important in the ceramic industry and is used for biodegradable plastics. Essentially, the importance of DMC should not be underplayed. DMC is a green chemical that can be used in a wide range. One can use DMC as an antibiotic while someone else uses DMC to make ceramics. DMC is great because of it’s low toxicity, biodegradability, and high production/low cost of production.