CAS NO. 616-38-6

Dimethyl carbonate (DMC) is an organic compound with the formula OC(OCH3)2. It is a colorless, flammable liquid. It is classified as a carbonate ester. This compound has found use as a methylating agent and more recently as a solvent that is exempt from classification as a Volatile organic compound (VOC) in the US. Dimethyl carbonate is often considered to be a green reagent.

Dimethyl carbonate can be prepared by the reaction of phosgene with methanol via methyl chloroformate:

COCl2 + CH3OH → CH3OCOCl + HCl
Overall: COCl2 + 2 CH3OH → CH3OCO2CH3 + 2 HCl

This historical synthesis process is undesirable because of phosgene's toxicity and has been largely replaced by other synthesis routes. It is produced industrially by transesterification of propylene carbonate and methanol, which also affords propylene glycol. A second large scale commercial synthesis route uses a process where carbon monoxide, methanol, and oxygen are reacted to form dimethyl carbonate. World production in 1997 was estimated at 1000 barrels a day. Production of dimethyl carbonate worldwide is limited to Asia and Europe.

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