Identification of Ethyl and t-Butyl Glyceryl Ethers Using Gas Chromatography Coupled with Mass Spectrometry

The ethers produced through the etherification reaction of glycerol with ethanol or t-butanol are used as oxygenated fuel additives, intermediates in the pharmaceutical industry, and non-ionic surfactants. However, the identification of these ethers has not been accurately done, because only some mass spectra of these compounds are available in the libraries. Moreover, there is a lack of discussion on their identification in the literature. In this work, a detailed identification of all ethers produced in the etherification of glycerol with ethanol or t-butanol was performed considering the mass spectra of isolated products and the comparison of the retention times. The elution order of the products was: tri-alkyl, 1,3-dialkyl, 2,3-dialkyl, 3-monoalkyl and 2-monoalkyl. In all mass spectra of the ethyl ethers, the base peak was m/z 61, while in the case of t-butyl ethers it was m/z 57.