June 13, 2004
The premise was to mix water, acetone, and sodium chloride, subject the mixture to magnetic stirring and begin electrolysis. Chlorine was formed at the anode (carbon) and mixed into the solution where hydroxide was forming from the cathode (nickel). Originally it was all one phase, as electrolysis commenced the graphite electrode was eroded and evidenced by the color change the nickel electrode went into solution. The whole methodology behind this experiment was the insitu production of sodium hypochlorite to form chloroform. Initially I thought it was a good sign that the solution ended up separating into two phases after an hour when stirring was stopped, however I believe it only really separated because the nickel going into solution salted out the water, there was most likely some chloroform formed but no where near as much as would be evidenced by the volume of the bottom layer in the 'After' picture.
In theory this works, hypochlorite is made in situ and oxidizes the acetone to chloroform and acetic acid. The sodium chloride formed as a byproduct of that reaction recycling with the electrolysis into hypochlorite again and the reaction continues onward. But nickel electrodes should not be used, I used nickel because of its resistance to oxidizing conditions and to bases but another material should be chosen, perhaps better graphite electrodes, of course noble metals like silver or platinum could also be used. It was a neat reaction though. I could not detect through smell or effect any chloroacetone being formed.
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