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The mechanism of the sonochemical degradation of benzoic acid in aqueous solutions

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The sonolytic degradation of benzoic acid in aqueous solution was investigated at an ultrasonic frequency of 355 kHz. The degradation rate was found to be dependent upon the solution pH and the surface activity of the solute. The degradation rate was favoured at a solution pH lower than the pKa of benzoic acid. At pH < pKa, HPLC, GC and ESMS analysis showed that benzoic acid could be degraded both inside the bubble by pyrolysis and at the bubble/solution interface by the reaction with OH radicals. At higher pH (> pKa) benzoic acid could only react with OH radicals in the bulk solution. During the sonolytic degradation of benzoic acid, mono-hydroxy substituted intermediates were observed as initial products. Further OH radical attack on the mono-hydroxy intermediates led to the formation of di-hydroxy derivatives. Continuous hydroxylation of the intermediates led to ring opening followed by complete mineralization. Mineralization of benzoic acid occurred at a rate of < 40 μM/h.


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