PEP Review IX-2-4
Ethylene Glycols, Direct Oxidation
Published: January 1974
Ethylene and propylene glycols have generally been produced by hydration of the corresponding oxides. The latter are made from ethylene by catalytic oxidation and from propylene by either a chlorohydrin or a peroxidation process. Literature indicates that several companies have developed glycol processes based on the direct catalytic oxidation of the olefins, in the presence of acetic acid, to glycol acetates. The acetates are then hydrolyzed to the glycols, thus avoiding the intermediate production of the olefin oxides.
Rough design and economic studies have been made on a direct oxidation process for the large scale production of ethylene glycol, and the economics compared with the two-step synthesis through ethylene oxide. It is concluded that direct oxidation looks quite promising, permitting savings in both investment and production cost.