The DICP research team led by Prof. Can Li (Member of CAS) and Prof. Qihua Yang has made new progress in the investigation of “Catalysis in Nano-Reactor”, and a highly efficient, green and energy-saving process for ethylene glycol production via catalytic hydration of ethylene oxide has been realized in a nano-reactor. Their results were published as a research communication in the Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. （Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., DOI: 10.1002/anie.201203774） Meanwhile, this accomplishment was reported in a voluminous article titled “Green Route to Glycols” in the Chemical & Engineering News （http://cen.acs.org/articles/90/i43/Green-Route-Glycols.html）.
It was found in this study that the metallic complex molecules of the catalyst confined within nano-cages were existing in a free-moving state, such that they retained in nano-scale the intrinsic characteristics of a homogeneous catalyst. And owing to the dual-site synergistic coupling effect, the catalyst exhibited comparatively high intrinsic activity. Via an encapsulation approach in preparation, the catalyst was macroscopically a heterogeneous sample, so that such a catalytic process within a nano-reactor possessed the advantages of both heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis.