A new method for the heterogeneous synthesis of ethanolamide from soybean oil methyl ester and monoethanolamine/diethanolamine has been established by using CaO and modified CaO as the solid basic catalyst. As the results show, the commercial CaO catalyst gives a high yield (80.2%) of monoethanolamide with high purity at a ratio of methyl ester to amine of 1: 2 after 3 h under the reaction temperature of 130°C over modified CaO. The yield was greatly enhanced to 96.3% after commercial CaO was modified by benzyl bromide in a simple way. Moreover, this catalyst shows a promising future in providing an environmentally clean process for the industrial applications. The effects of modification and reaction conditions on yields as well as the possible reaction mechanism were discussed. Further investigation indicated that the structure of ethanolamine has a great effect on the yield of monoethanolamide.
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