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Catalysis over zinc-incorporated berlinite (ZnAlPO4) of the methoxycarbonylation of 1,6-hexanediamine with dimethyl carbonate to form dimethylhexane-1,6-dicarbamate

Da-Lei Sun1, Jian-Ru Deng12 and Zi-Sheng Chao12*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Hunan University, Changsha,410082 People's Republic of China

2 Key Laboratory of Chemometrics & Chemical Biological Sensing Technologies, Ministry of Education, Hunan University, Changsha, 410082 People's Republic of China

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Chemistry Central Journal 2007, 1:27  doi:10.1186/1752-153X-1-27

Published: 7 November 2007



The alkoxycarbonylation of diamines with dialkyl carbonates presents promising route for the synthesis of dicarbamates, one that is potentially 'greener' owing to the lack of a reliance on phosgene. While a few homogeneous catalysts have been reported, no heterogeneous catalyst could be found in the literature for use in the synthesis of dicarbamates from diamines and dialkyl carbonates. Because heterogeneous catalysts are more manageable than homogeneous catalysts as regards separation and recycling, in our study, we hydrothermally synthesized and used pure berlinite (AlPO4) and zinc-incorporated berlinite (ZnAlPO4) as heterogeneous catalysts in the production of dimethylhexane-1,6-dicarbamate from 1,6-hexanediamine (HDA) and dimethyl carbonate (DMC). The catalysts were characterized by means of XRD, FT-IR and XPS. Various influencing factors, such as the HDA/DMC molar ratio, reaction temperature, reaction time, and ZnAlPO4/HDA ratio, were investigated systematically.


The XRD characterization identified a berlinite structure associated with both the AlPO4 and ZnAlPO4 catalysts. The FT-IR result confirmed the incorporation of zinc into the berlinite framework for ZnAlPO4. The XPS measurement revealed that the zinc ions in the ZnAlPO4 structure possessed a higher binding energy than those in ZnO, and as a result, a greater electron-attracting ability. It was found that ZnAlPO4 catalyzed the formation of dimethylhexane-1,6-dicarbamate from the methoxycarbonylation of HDA with DMC, while no activity was detected on using AlPO4. Under optimum reaction conditions (i.e. a DMC/HDA molar ratio of 8:1, reaction temperature of 349 K, reaction time of 8 h, and ZnAlPO4/HDA ratio of 5 (mg/mmol)), a yield of up to 92.5% of dimethylhexane-1,6-dicarbamate (with almost 100% conversion of HDA) was obtained. Based on these results, a possible mechanism for the methoxycarbonylation over ZnAlPO4 was also proposed.


As a heterogeneous catalyst ZnAlPO4 berlinite is highly active and selective for the methoxycarbonylation of HDA with DMC. We propose that dimethylhexane-1,6-dicarbamate is formed via a catalytic cycle, which involves activation of the DMC by a key active intermediate species, formed from the coordination of the carbonyl oxygen with Zn(II), as well as a reaction intermediate formed from the nucleophilic attack of the amino group on the carbonyl carbon.

Graphical abstract