Scientists Discover Method For Transforming Methanol To Ethanol

On February 14, 2019, scientists in China published an article revealing a new methodology developed to safely transform methanol into ethanol. Given methanol’s toxicity, this recently uncovered method allows for a more secure, user-friendly, sustainable technology that can be more broadly applied (ref.

Summary -  As an important effort to secure the sustainable “fossil alternative,” the direct conversion of the more readily available methanol to the more user-friendly, less toxic, and broadly applicable ethanol poses exciting potential as well as a tremendous scientific challenge. Herein, we report the first photo-driven one-step conversion of methanol to ethanol at ambient temperature, catalyzed by an ultra-stable gallium nitride semiconductor. Mechanistic studies revealed that methyl carbene (methylene), one of the most fascinating C 1 building blocks in synthetic chemistry, was generated as a reaction intermediate, which potentially enables a green and novel method for generating carbene. We also found that methanol can be converted to n-propyl alcohol with the same catalyst through a simple change in reaction temperature, giving a unique selectivity and a high-value-added product.



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