by Derek Pletcher
Hydrogen peroxide is probably a unique chemical, ideally suited to the present age where environmental considerations are always to the fore.
Firstly, it is capable of very diverse chemistry. Hydrogen peroxide may act as either an oxidizing agent or a reducing agent. As an oxidizing agent, its application ranges from highly selective oxidation chemistries applicable to the manufacture of many organic com-pounds, through the bleaching of pulp, to the total oxidation of large organic compounds to carbon dioxide. Its reactivity as an oxidizing agent is determined largely by the ratio of the concentrations of H2O2 to substrate and the reaction conditions, particularly the choice of catalyst and factors such as UV irradiation.
Secondly, it is a strong oxidizing agent that may be formed by cathodic reduction under mild and varied conditions, opening up the possibility of producing the same product at both anode and cathode. Thirdly, the feedstock for electrogenerated hydrogen peroxide may be air (an unusually cheap and available feedstock!) while its reactions lead only to oxygen and/or water.