March 31, 2019

Using platinum nanocatalyst, a two-member team at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has successfully converted petroleum waste-product toluene into benzoic acid.


  • Benzoic acid (or C6H5COOH), is a colourless crystalline solid and a simple aromatic carboxylic acid. Benzoic acid is used as a food preservative and medicine for fungal/bacterial infection.

  • Toluene is converted into benzoic acid through selective and controlled oxidation in the presence of a 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. So in a departure from current practice, the team has used water as solvent to make it environment-friendly.

  • Also, a green oxidant (70% aqueous tert-butyl hydroperoxide or TBHP) is used for converting toluene into benzoic acid.

Source : The Hindu