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Oxidation of monoethylene glycol to glycolic acid with gold-based catalyst and glycolic acid isolation by electrodialysis

In this work, a highly selective and active gold-based catalyst for the oxidation of high concentrated monoethylene glycol (MEG) in aqueous solution (3 M, 20 wt%) is described. High glycolic acid (GA) selectivity was achieved under mild reaction conditions. The optimization of the catalyst composition and of the reaction conditions for the oxidation of MEG in semi-batch mode under alkaline conditions led to a GA yield of >80% with a GA selectivity of about 90% in short reaction time. The bimetallic catalyst 0.1 wt% AuPt (9:1)/CeO2 showed very high activity (>2000 mmolMEG/gmetalmin ) in the oxidation of MEG and, contrary to other studies, an extremely high educt to metal mole ratio of >25,000 was used. Additionally, the gold–platinum catalyst showed a high GA selectivity over more than 10 runs. A very efficient and highly selective process for the GA production from MEG under industrial relevant reaction conditions was established. In order to obtain a GA solution with high purity for the subsequent polymerization, the received reaction solution containing sodium glycolate, unreacted MEG and sodium oxalate is purified by a novel down-stream process via electrodialysis. The overall GA yield of the process exceeds 90% as unreacted MEG can be recycled.



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