Catalytic Oxidation of Ethylene Glycol by Dioxygen in Alkaline Medium. The New Example of One-stage Oxidative Cleavage of C–C Bond

Andrei Sakharov, Pavel Sakharov and Gennady Zaikov
N. M. Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences 4, Kosygin str., 119334 Moscow, Russia
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Reaction of low temperature oxidations of ethylene glycol (EG) by molecular oxygen in the presence of salts of bivalent copper and alkali both in water and in waterless solutions was investigated. It was found that at low (close to room) temperatures and in waterless solutions the basic product of EG oxidation is formic acid. Rise in the temperature from 290–315 K to 350–360 K or reaction flow in water-containing solutions leads to sharp change of reaction direction. EG in these conditions is oxidized with primary formation of glycolic acids salts. The change in the reaction direction is connected, apparently, with decrease in the stability of chelate complexes of Cu2+ ions with dianionic form of EG. The mechanism of glycolic acids formation includes, possibly, a stage of two-electronic reduction of О2 in the reaction of dioxygen with monoanionic forms of EG, coordinated on Cu2+ centers.

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