Chemistry of sodium lactate formation under simulated alumina refinery conditions

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Journal Article
Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, 2003, 42 (14), pp. 3185 - 3189
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The formation of sodium lactate, sodium acetate, and sodium formate under laboratory-simulated conditions for the production of alumina from organic-contaminated bauxite by dissolution in hot (145 °C) sodium hydroxide (3 M) has been studied. Not unexpectedly, sodium lactate, sodium acetate, and sodium formate are shown to arise from glucose. Studies up to 14 h show that, once formed, sodium acetate and sodium formate are stable. Sodium L-(+)-lactate, however, decomposes to sodium carbonate and ethanol under these conditions, but it reaches a constant concentration that appears to be dependent on the initial lactate and sodium hydroxide concentrations. Sodium [1-13C]L-lactate studies showed that 13C-labeled carboxylate (COO-) is scrambled among the carbonate and both of the carbons in the ethanol produced. A 1,2,3-trihydroxycyclopropane intermediate is proposed. In the presence of 2-methoxyphenol, a lignin degradation product, sodium lactate decomposition is enhanced, and the sodium acetate and formate yields are also affected.
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