A new review article on the subject of converting CO2 and ethylene to acrylic acid and derivatives was published in chemistry journal Chem, a new Chemistry journal from Cell Press by researchers from CAS Key Laboratory of Low-Carbon Conversion Science and Engineering, Shanghai Advanced Research Institute (SARI).
As one of the most important classes of fine chemical products, acrylate serves as the key building block for a variety of crucial polymeric materials. As of 2013, the world capacity for acrylic acid alone was 6 million tons. Traditional manufacturing of acrylates has been done by the oxidation of propylene via a two-step sequence. In the late 1970s, chemists discovered the addition reaction between CO2 and alkene, mediated by transition-metal complexes. Since then, a large amount of time and resources have been invested in seeking an effective catalyst for this transformation, with the emphasis on the addition of CO2 and ethylene.
This new review summarizes critical findings in the development of this industrially relevant process and discusses mechanistic insights. The featured reaction is believed to be a perfect example for Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) that produces value-added chemicals, and will inspire potential solutions to other CCU transformations that involve the reduction of CO2.
“The conversion of CO2 and ethylene to acrylate has been a dream reaction in the realm of catalysis and carbon dioxide utilization, with tremendous efforts from scientists during the past four decades,” said WANG Xiao, adjunct professor at SARI and instructor at Harvard Medical School. “Although conventional synthesis may be largely sufficient to meet the current need, the CO2/ethylene route is definitely the state of art that spins straw into gold. Currently, the major limitations include low turnover number and harsh reaction conditions. Nevertheless, we are not to be deterred, and I strongly believe that an efficient catalytic system will eventually be realized. ”