Production of formic and acetic acids from phenol by hydrothermal oxidation

Man Lu, Xu Zeng, Jiang Lin Cao, Zhi Bao Huo, Fang Ming Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrothermal technology is a core environmental-protection technique which can be used for waste water treatment and biomass conversion. In this paper a novel idea, alkaline hydrothermal oxidation, is proposed for producing formic and acetic acids from wastewater containing phenolic compounds. The effects of the most important conditions-reaction temperature, reaction time, oxygen supply, and type of alkaline catalyst-on yields of formic and acetic acids were investigated. The results indicated that the optimum conditions for production of formic and acetic acids were: reaction temperature 300°C, reaction time 90 s, H2O2 equivalent to 60% oxygen, and NaOH concentration 1.5 mmol. Under the optimum conditions the yields of formic and acetic acids reached 4.8 and 23.5%, respectively. In addition, the effect of different alkalis on yields of formic and acetic acids was also investigated. The results showed that compared with use of NaOH addition of KOH had a more pronounced effect on improving the yield of acetic acid. This research indicated that high-value-added formic and acetic acids can be recovered as resources by hydrothermal oxidation of phenolic wastewater, and thus hydrothermal oxidation has high potential for converting phenolic compounds in wastewater into value-added products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalResearch on Chemical Intermediates
Issue number2-5
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Apr


  • Acetic acid
  • Alkali
  • Formic acid
  • Hydrothermal oxidation
  • Organic waste
  • Phenol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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