Catalysis Letters

, Volume 142, Issue 1, pp 81–86 | Cite as

Brönsted Acidic Ionic Liquids as Efficient and Recyclable Catalysts for the Carbonylation of Formaldehyde

  • Heyuan Song
  • Zhen Li
  • Jing Chen
  • Chungu Xia


Methyl glycolate (MG), as a precursor to ethylene glycol (EG), was synthesized by an efficient and eco-friendly procedure of one-pot, two-step, sequential reaction, including carbonylation and esterification from HCHO with Brönsted acidic ionic liquids (BAILs) as catalysts. MG was obtained in high yield under mild conditions. In addition, the catalyst could be recycled eight times after separating the unreacted materials and products from the reaction system by distillation under vacuum and no significant decrease in catalytic activity was observed.

Graphical Abstract

Methyl glycolate (MG) was successfully synthesized from the carbonylation of HCHO using Brönsted acidic ionic liquids (BAILs) as catalysts, followed by esterification with methanol. The conversion of HCHO and yield of MG could up to 99.2% and 98.0%, respectively. The catalyst and solvent could be separated and reused at least eight times without apparently loss of activity.


Formaldehyde Carbonylation Methyl glycolate Ethylene glycol Ionic liquids 



This study was supported by National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) 2011CB201404 and the Key Project of the National Twelfth-Five Year Research Program of China 2011BAE17B00.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory for Oxo Synthesis and Selective Oxidation, Lanzhou Institute of Chemical PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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