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DFT Analysis of Organotin Catalytic Mechanisms in Dehydration Esterification Reactions for Terephthalic Acid and 2,2,4,4-Tetramethyl-1,3-cyclobutanediol

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posted on 08.06.2021, 19:42 by Jennifer A. Clark, Pranav J. Thacker, Charles J. McGill, Jason R. Miles, Phillip R. Westmoreland, Kirill Efimenko, Jan Genzer, Erik E. Santiso
Polyesters synthesized from 2,2,4,4-tetramethyl-1,3-cyclobutanediol (TMCD) and terephthalic acid (TPA) are improved alternatives to toxic polycarbonates based on bisphenol A. In this work, we use ωB97X-D/LANL2DZdp calculations, in the presence of a benzaldehyde polarizable continuum model solvent, to show that esterification of TMCD and TPA will reduce and subsequently dehydrate a dimethyl tin oxide catalyst, becoming ligands on the now four-coordinate complex. This reaction then proceeds most plausibly by an intramolecular acyl-transfer mechanism from the tin complex, aided by a coordinated proton donor such as hydronium. These findings are a key first step in understanding polyester synthesis and avoiding undesirable side reactions during production.