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IIT Madras converts petroleum waste toluene into useful product

Date: 30 March 2019 Tags: Nanotechnology

Scientists from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have successfully converted petroleum waste-product toluene into benzoic acid.  It uses environment friendly conversion process by using green catalyst and water instead of organic acid as solvent. Benzoic acid is used as food preservative (E210) and medicine for fungal and bacterial infection.

Key Facts

  • Toluene was converted into benzoic acid through selective and controlled oxidation in presence of catalyst — binaphthyl-stabilised platinum nanoparticles (Pt-BNP).
  • Generally, organic reactions are carried out using organic solvents, which makes it expensive and also generates toxic waste.
  • To overcome this problem, scientists used water as solvent to make it environment-friendly.
  • Moreover, green oxidant (70% aqueous tert-butyl hydroperoxide-TBHP) was also used for converting toluene into benzoic acid.
  • The use of Pt-BNP only produces benzoic acid and no other byproducts such as alcohol, aldehyde or ester is produced which are usually produced when toluene is oxidized.