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Dimethyl terephthalate

Dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) is an organic compound with the formula C6H4(COOCH3)2. It is the diester formed from terephthalic acid and methanol. It is a white solid that melts to give a distillable colourless liquid.[1]

Dimethyl terephthalate
Structural formula of dimethyl terephthalate
Preferred IUPAC name
Dimethyl benzene-1,4-dicarboxylate
Other names
Dimethyl terephthalate
1,4-Benzenedicarboxylic acid dimethyl ester
Dimethyl 4-phthalate
Dimethyl p-phthalate
Di-Me terephthalate
Methyl 4-carbomethoxybenzoate
Methyl terephthalate
Terephthalic acid methyl ester
3D model (JSmol)
Abbreviations DMT
ECHA InfoCard 100.004.011
EC Number
  • 204-411-8
MeSH Dimethyl+4-phthalate
RTECS number
  • WZ1225000
Molar mass 194.186 g·mol−1
Appearance white solid
Density 1.2 g/cm3, ?
Melting point 142 °C (288 °F; 415 K)
Boiling point 288 °C (550 °F; 561 K)
Acidity (pKa) -7.21
Basicity (pKb) -6.60
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references


Dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) has been produced in a number of ways. Conventionally, and still of commercial value, is the direct esterification of terephthalic acid. Alternatively, it can be prepared by alternating oxidation and methyl-esterification steps from p-xylene via methyl p-toluate (PT).[1]

Dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) (Witten Process)Edit

The common method for the production of DMT from p-xylene (PX) and methanol consists of a multistep process involving both oxidation and esterification. A mixture of p-xylene (PX) and methyl p-toluate is oxidized with air in the presence of a cobalt and manganese catalysts. The acid mixture resulting from the oxidation is esterified with methanol to produce a mixture of esters. The crude ester mixture is distilled to remove all the heavy boilers and residue produced; the lighter esters are recycled to the oxidation section. The raw DMT is then sent to the crystallization section to remove DMT isomers, residual acids and aromatic aldehydes.[2]

Structure of monomethyl terephthalate.

Oxidation of methyl p-toluate followed by esterification also yields dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) as shown in the below reaction:[1]


Dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) production through direct esterification

If highly impure terephthalic acid is available, DMT can be made in a separate process by esterification with methanol to dimethyl terephthalate, which is then purified by distillation:

C8H6O4 + 2CH3OH → C10H10O4 + 2 H2O

at presence of o-xylene at 250–300 °C.


DMT is used in the production of polyesters, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT), and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT). It consists of benzene substituted with carboxymethyl groups (CO2CH3) at the 1 and 4 positions. Because DMT is volatile, it is an intermediate in some schemes for the recycling of PET, e.g. from plastic bottles.

Hydrogenation of DMT affords the diol cyclohexanedimethanol, which is a useful monomer.


  1. ^ a b c Richard J. Sheehan "Terephthalic Acid, Dimethyl Terephthalate, and Isophthalic Acid" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2005.doi:10.1002/14356007.a26_193
  2. ^

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