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Synthesis of carvacrol by Friedel–Crafts alkylation of o‐cresol with isopropanol using superacidic catalyst UDCaT‐5

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BACKGROUND: Alkylation of o‐cresol with propylene or isopropyl alcohol (IPA) over solid acid catalysts results in the formation of carvacrol, which finds potential applications in the synthesis of fine chemicals, intermediates, specialty chemicals, flavours and fragrances.

RESULTS: The present work covers evaluation of novel mesoporous superacidic catalysts namely UDCaT‐4, UDCaT‐5 and UDCaT‐6 in the greener synthesis of carvacrol. The catalysts are modified versions of zirconia showing high catalytic activity, stability and reusability. The catalytic activity increases in the following order: UDCaT‐5 > UDCaT‐4 > UDCaT‐6 > sulfated zirconia. The process was optimized and a mathematical model developed to describe the reaction pathway in liquid phase. Carvacrol could be efficiently obtained with a selectivity up to 82% at an isopropanol conversion of 98% after 2 h over UDCaT‐5 at 180 °C.

CONCLUSION: The reaction is free from any external mass transfer as well as intraparticle diffusion limitations and is intrinsically kinetically controlled. An overall second‐order kinetic equation was used to fit the experimental data. The activation energy was found to be 19.2 kcal/mol. The reaction was carried out without any solvent in order to make the process cleaner and greener. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry
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Keywords: Friedel—Crafts alkylation; carvacrol; green chemistry; isopropyl alcohol; o‐cresol; solid superacid catalysts

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2009

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