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Oxidation of Aldehydes to Carboxylic Acids

Oxidation of Aldehydes to Carboxylic Acids: Mechanism

The oxidation of aldehydes to carboxylic acids is a two-step procedure. In the first step, one mol of water is added in the presence of an acidic catalyst to generate a hydrate (geminal 1,1-diol).

2D animation: Acid-catalyzed hydrate formation


Subsequently, the hydrate is oxidized to the carboxylic acid formally eliminating water.


Suitabe oxidizing agents

  • Chromium(VI) compounds: CrO3 [or K2Cr2O7]
  • Potasssium permanganate: KMnO4 in aqueous solution
  • Silver oxide: Ag2O (very mild oxidizing agent with yields up to 98%, but very expensive)
  • Hydrogen peroxide: H2O2 (because of epoxidation, the methodology is not compatible with C=C double bonds)
  • Peroxy acetic acid: C2H4O3 (not compatible with C=C double bonds because of epoxidation)
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