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The Development of an Environmentally Friendly Catalytic Oxidation System for the Synthesis of Epichlorohydrin from Allyl Chloride

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The use of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as an environmentally friendly oxidant for organic compounds has gained industrial importance since it offers the advantages of simple process, easy work-up, low cost and reduction in noxious waste materials. Hydrogen peroxide is a clean and effective oxidizing agent since it contains 47% of active oxygen and the only by-product formed is water. Phase transfer catalysis (PTC) is an attractive technique for synthesis of organic chemicals from two immiscible reactants existing in two different phases, which otherwise normally cannot react with each other due to their low mutual solubility.

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The use of co-catalyst with PTC has proven to be advantageous in intensifying the rates of oxidation reactions with H2O2. In this research work tetrabutyl ammonium bromide (TBAB) was used as a phase transfer catalyst and phosphotungstic acid (PTA) as a co-catalyst. Epichlorohydrin is mainly used for the production of glycerol, unmodified epoxy resins and elastomers. Epoxy resins are used as adhesives and structural materials. Oxidation of allyl chloride with hydrogen peroxide was carried out batch wise in a fully baffled mechanically agitated glass reactor of capacity 500 cm3.

A 2 cm diameter four bladed glass pitched turbine impeller located at a height of 1.5 cm from the bottom was used for stirring the reaction mixture. The reactor was kept in a constant temperature water bath whose temperature could be controlled. Analysis of hydrogen peroxide was carried out using iodometric titration from which the conversion of hydrogen peroxide at various reaction times was determined. Work is in progress to study the effect of various parameters and develop a kinetic model for this environmentally friendly catalytic oxidation system.

The 20th century brought about various scientific benefits to mankind, but all this was responsible for a number of environmental problems at the local and global levels. Therefore it is important to formulate guidelines and pass strict rules for industries but most important to bring about changes at the grass root level.[1] "Green Chemistry" is a central issue, in both academia and industry, with regard to chemical synthesis in the 21st century.' Oxidation is a core technology for converting petroleum-based materials to useful chemicals of a higher oxidation state. Various oxidants such as heavy metal oxidants, organic stoichiometric oxidants and nitric acid have been developed, and they are frequently used in organic synthesis.

However, they are relatively expensive, the atom efficiency is low, and they Green Catalytic Epoxidation of Allyl Chloride to Epichlorohydrin with Hydrogen Peroxide form equimolar amounts of the deoxygenated compounds as waste. Moreover, use of organic solvents and toxic compounds should be decreased for environmentally conscious chemical processes. Thus, there is a need for the invention of clean, safe oxidation procedures. Hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, is a very attractive oxidant for liquid-phase reactions. It can oxidize organic compounds with an atom efficiency of 47% and with the generation of water as the only theoretical co-product. It is relatively cheap and approximately 2.4 million metric tons per year are produced for use, mainly as bleach. It should be noted that H2O2 can be an ideal, waste-avoiding oxidant only when it is used in a controlled manner without organic solvents and other toxic compounds.

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