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Photocatalytic oxidation process to produce phenol

Photocatalytic oxidation of benzene to produce phenol


Phenol is an industrial commodity as precursor to many materials, such as, epoxies, nylon, detergents, pharmaceutical drugs, etc. Phenol market in 2022 was 23 billion $.

Cumene process is the standard method to obtain phenol and acetone as a by-product, in a proportion 60:40. The process needs high pressure and high temperature in some of the steps.

We present a new method. With a photoredox reaction in water, catalysed by metallacarboranes at room temperature and atmosphere pressure, we obtain phenol with an over 90% yield. Increasing the time of the reaction we can obtain other products as pyrocatechol, resorcinol, among others. This photocatalytic process can be used to obtain other alcohols from aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, such as hexane, heptane, cyclohexene, toluene, etc.