Oxidation of organic compounds in molten salts

  • Emad F. Al-Muslih

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The objective of this research was to investigate the oxidation of organic compounds in molten alkali metal hydroxides containing manganates. It has been shown that controlled oxidation can be readily achieved with high specificity to give products in high yield with very short reaction times. The concurrent changes in the melt were monitored using a vibrating platinum indicator electrode with a quazi-reference electrode which was successfully developed for use in molten (Na-K)OH eutectic at 523K. Henry's Law constants for water in the molten eutectic system (Na-K)OH have been measured and used to calculate the water concentration in the melt. The electrochemistry of manganates in molten (Na-K)OH eutectic at 523K has been studied using the vibrating platinum electrode, and the existence of the species Mn(II), Mn(II!), Mn(IV), Mn(V) and
    Mn(VI) in such melts has been investigated at various water concentrations. The half-wave potentials of the voltammetric waves were measured versus the cathodic limit of the melt. The stability of Mn(V) or Mn(VI) in the melt was achieved by varying the water concentration. A range of organic chemicals has been passed through molten (Na-K)OH at 523K and the reactions of these chemicals with the melt have been studied. The same organics were then passed through molten (Na-K)OH containing stabilized Mn(V) or Mn{VI) without violent reaction. Methanol, allyl alcohol, propane 1, 2 diol, I-heptene and acetone were oxidized by Mn(V) and Mn(VI). Ethanol was only oxidized by Mn(VI), isopropanol and benzyl alcohol were only oxidized by Mn(V). Npropanol, butanol, 2 methyl propan-2-ol, n-hexane, n-heptane toluene and cyclohexane were unchanged by both Mn(V) and Mn(VI). Detailed experiments have been performed on the reactions of ethanol, iso-propanol and methanol in molten (Na-K)OH containing stabilized Mrt(V) or Mn(VI), and reaction mechanisms have been postulated. Ethanol and iso-propanol were oxidized to acetaldehyde and acetone respectively with a potential for useful chemical process. The oxidation of methanol could be developed as a basis for an industrial methanol disposal process.
    Date of Award1984
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJ. K. Maund (Supervisor)


    • Oxidation
    • organic compounds
    • molten salts

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