One of the achievements of Xiamen University was selected as one of the top ten advances in Chinese science in 2022. This achievement, developed by the team of Academician Xie Suyuan and Professor Yuan Youzhu from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering of Xiamen University, realizes the synthesis of ethylene glycol under mild pressure conditions.
The Top Ten Advances in Science in China in 2022 were released by the High Technology Research and Development Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology. It is generally believed that the most important reason why this achievement of Xiamen University can be selected into the top ten is: in the context of my country’s relatively high proportion of foreign oil procurement, the development of non-petroleum synthetic gas to ethylene glycol technology is meaningful.
Plastics and textile daily necessities are widely produced from polyester materials, and ethylene glycol is one of the two important monomers in the polyester industry. At present, the global annual demand for ethylene glycol reaches tens of millions of tons, mainly from petrochemicals .
In order to reduce the external dependence of ethylene glycol, scientific research institutions represented by the Fujian Institute of Material Structure of the Chinese Academy of Sciences cooperated with enterprises to develop a 10,000-ton-level ethylene glycol conversion process from coal or syngas through ester hydrogenation in 2009. A complete set of technologies for non-petroleum routes. However, in this technical route, there are problems such as potential safety hazards and insufficient stability of the purity and quality of ethylene glycol products.
Xie Suyuan’s team and Yuan Youzhu’s team from Xiamen University, together with researchers from the Fujian Institute of Material Structure of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Xiamen Funa New Material Technology Co., Ltd., used fullerene C60 as an “electronic buffer” for modifying copper-silica catalysts , developed a fullerene-copper-silica catalyst with a C60 electron buffer to stabilize cuprous, and realized the synthesis of ethylene glycol on a multi-kilogram scale with fullerene-buffered copper-catalyzed dimethyl oxalate under mild pressure conditions, It is expected to reduce dependence on oil technology routes.
What is ethylene glycol used for?
Plastics and textile daily necessities are widely produced from polyester materials, and ethylene glycol is one of the two important monomers in the polyester industry. At present, the global annual demand for ethylene glycol reaches tens of millions of tons.
What is the role of fullerene C60?
Fullerene C60 is used as an “electron buffer” to modify copper-silica catalysts. A fullerene-copper-silica catalyst that uses C60 electron buffering to stabilize cuprous has been developed, realizing fullerene buffering. Copper-catalyzed multikilogram-scale ethylene glycol synthesis from dimethyl oxalate under mild pressure conditions. (She Zheng Ouyang Guilian)