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Spectroscopic Investigation of the Electrosynthesis of Diphenyl Carbonate from CO and Phenol on Gold Electrodes

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journal contribution
posted on 06.03.2018, 00:00 by Marta C. Figueiredo, Vinh Trieu, Stefanie Eiden, Jan Heijl, Marc T. M. Koper
In this work, we study the synthesis of diphenyl carbonate (DPC) from phenol and CO on gold electrodes studied by means of in situ Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The results show that, on gold electrodes, the formation of DPC is observed at potentials as low as 0.4 V vs Ag/AgCl, together with the formation of dimethyl carbonate (DMC) from the carbonylation of methanol that was used as a solvent. The spectroelectrochemical results also suggest that the formation of DPC occurs via the replacement of the methoxy groups from DMC with phenoxy groups from phenol and not directly by the carbonylation of phenol. Although this transesterification process is known to occur with heterogeneous catalysts, it has not been reported under electrochemical conditions. These are interesting findings, since the direct DPC production by carbonylation of phenol to DPC is usually performed with Pd-based catalysts. With this reaction scheme of transesterification happening under electrochemical conditions, other non-Pd catalysts could be used as well for one-step DPC production from phenol and CO. These findings give important mechanistic insights into this reaction and open up possibilities to an alternative process for the production of DPC.