The autoxidation of organic materials is a detrimental radical chain process often leading to their rapid deterioration unless they are protected by preventive and/or chain breaking antioxidants. The properties of the more important family of the latter ones, that one of phenols, are illustrated in this tutorial review. A short outline of diarylamine antioxidants is also given. We describe simple experimental methods employed for the determination of the two parameters more useful for estimating the inhibiting power of antioxidants, that is the kinetic rate constant for their reaction with the chain carrying peroxyl radicals, kinh, to give persistent phenoxyl or aminyl radicals and the bond dissociation enthalpy BDE(X–H) (X = O, N) of the bond cleaved in the inhibition process. The dependence of these parameters on the number and nature of the substituents is discussed and, in the case of phenols, a simple rule allowing to predict with reasonable accuracy the BDE and kinh values, from their structure. The effect of solvent polarity on the antioxidant power is also described. Finally, the information on the mechanism of reaction between phenols and peroxyl radicals provided by both experiments and theoretical calculations are examined. Because of difficulties associated with the analysis of non-homogenous systems all the reported results refer to homogenous solution in which experimental data can be analysed by means of more reliable and complete treatments.
You have access to this article
Please wait while we load your content...
Something went wrong. Try again?