Simple and safe setup produces elemental chlorine when and where it’s needed

chemical bottles in laboratory

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No one wants to stock cylinders of toxic and corrosive chlorine in the lab. Now, researchers working with the gas can generate small amounts when and where they need it.

C Oliver Kappe and his team based at the University of Graz in Austria have developed a continuous flow setup where Cl2 – a cheap and effective reagent for many reactions – is produced in place, separated and can then be consumed immediately. This simple process avoids having to store chlorine cylinders and adhering to the complicated safety requirements that come with it.

The new setup produces chlorine through a simple reaction between NaOCl and HCl in solution – the only byproducts being NaCl (common table salt) and water.

Kappe and his group tested their equipment on a number of standard organic chemistry reactions, for example the oxidation of secondary alcohols, which produced excellent yields.