Autoxidation vs. antioxidants – the fight for forever†
Autoxidation limits the longevity of essentially all hydrocarbons and materials made therefrom – including us. The radical chain reaction responsible often leads to complex mixtures of hydroperoxides, alkyl peroxides, alcohols, carbonyls and carboxylic acids, which change the physical properties of the material – be it a lubricating oil or biological membrane. Autoxidation is inhibited by addtitives such as radical-trapping antioxidants, which intervene directly in the chain reaction. Herein we review the most salient features of autoxidation and its inhibition, emphasizing concepts and mechanistic considerations important in understanding this chemistry across the wide range of contexts in which it is relevant.