• Ahmed Hameed

Student thesis: Phd


Atmospheric aldol self-reactions of octanal, heptanal and hexanal in a range of aqueous H2SO4 w/v% concentrations as a catalyst were studied in both bulk liquid-liquid experiments and gas-liquid experiments. Initially, a new practical methodology was developed and enhanced to monitor aldol reactions in aqueous acidic media. The evaluation of a quenching and extracting method were performed, confirming the suitability, reliability and reproducibility of the extraction method. In bulk studies, aldol products of the three aldehydes were separated and identified by preparative HPLC, GC-MS and NMR. The major aldol products observed at high acid concentrations were alpha,β-unsaturated aldehyde (dimer), trialkyl benzene (trimer) and tetraalkylcycloocta-tetraene (tetramer). The trimer of octanal was formed as trioxane in low sulfuric acid concentration and the possible mechanism accretion reaction pathways of high and low acid concentrations are proposed in this study. A systematic kinetic study of octanal, heptanal and hexanal in the bulk experiments at 65, 60 and 55 w/v% H2SO4 at 294 K were monitored using gas chromatographic equipped with a flame ionisation detector (GC-FID). The rate constants were generally estimated using second order kinetics and observed to increase as a function of sulfuric acid concentrations and also as the chain length of aliphatic aldehyde increased. The aldol self-reaction in the bulk experiment was too fast at room temperature to be easily measured using a quenching method therefore attempts were made to follow the reaction at low temperature (0 °C). The result at low temperature indicated that the rate constant of aldehyde was reduced but there was an issue of rapid rise in temperature as a result of mixing concentrated sulfuric acid with aqueous solution of the aldehyde. A gas bubbling system was developed which better simulates atmospheric reality, and which also resolves the issue of temperature rise on mixing. Two different methodologies were used: one in which the aldehyde was continually added, and one where a fixed amount was added from the gas phase and the reaction was then allowed to proceed, monitored at selected time intervals. The precision and accuracy of the fixed method was then further improved by the addition of an internal standard (IS). Using this, the concentrations of aliphatic aldehydes (C6-C8) were calibrated using an experimentally determined response factor and used to follow the loss of the reactant aldehydes. Similar methods were applied to the aldol dimers (C6-C8), which were purified and used to calibrate the chromatographic response. The rate constant for octanal, heptanal and hexanal at 76 wt% and 294 K were 0.0969 M-1 s-1, 0.1497 M-1 s-1 and 0.2622 M-1 s-1 respectively. There are some observations based upon the results presented in this thesis that may be of atmospheric significance: (i) phase separation between organic and aqueous layers in both the bulk experiment and in the bubbling system; (ii) the acid strength dependence and concentration-dependence of the various products; (iii) the faster rates than previously reported, and variation between bulk and bubbling; and (v) the time-dependent colour changes. Further work to explore these observations is proposed.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAndrew Horn (Supervisor) & C J Percival (Supervisor)


  • Aldehyde Rate constant
  • NMR
  • UV-vis
  • GC-FID
  • Hexane
  • GC-MS
  • Hexanal
  • Heptanal
  • Octanal
  • Aldol Condensation Reaction
  • Sulfuric Acid

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