A high throughput experimentation (HTE) study identified active Ru metathesis catalysts and reaction conditions for the ethenolysis of maleate esters to the respective acrylate esters. Catalysts were tested at various loadings (75–10’000 ppm) and temperatures (30–60 °C) with maleate esters dissolved in toluene (up to ca. 44 wt-%) or neat and at variable partial pressures of ethylene (0.2–10 bar). Ruthenium catalysts containing a PCy3 ligand, such as 1st or 2nd generation Grubbs catalysts, as well as the state-of-the-art catalysts containing cyclic alkyl amino carbene (CAAC) ligands, are generally inferior to Hoveyda–Grubbs 2nd generation catalyst in ethenolysis of maleates. Productive turnover numbers could exceed 1900 if the ethenolysis reaction is performed at low ethylene pressure (0.2–3 bar) and reach 5200 when a polymeric phenol additive was used. Such catalytic performance falls well within the window practiced in industry. Moreover, a crude technoeconomic analysis finds similar production cost for the ethenolysis route and conventional technology, that is, propene oxidation followed by esterification, justifying research to further improve the ethenolysis route.
- high throughput experimentation
- ruthenium metathesis catalysts
- technoeconomic analysis