Reaction-Controlled Phase-Transfer Catalysis for Propylene Epoxidation to Propylene Oxide

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Science  11 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5519, pp. 1139-1141
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5519.1139

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The epoxidation of olefins with H2O2 was performed with a tungsten-containing catalyst. This insoluble catalyst forms soluble active species by the action of H2O2, and when the H2O2 is used up, the catalyst precipitates for easy recycling. Thus, the advantages of both homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts are combined in one system through reaction-controlled phase transfer of the catalyst. When coupled with the 2-ethylanthraquinone/2-ethylanthrahydroquinone redox process for H2O2 production, O2 can be used for the epoxidation of propylene to propylene oxide with 85% yield based on 2-ethylanthrahydroquinone without any co-products. This approach avoids the problematic co-products normally associated with the industrial production of propylene oxide.

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