Kinetics and mechanism of the decomposition of tetrathionate ion in alkaline medium

Dénes Varga, Attila K. Horváth

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The kinetics of the alkaline decomposition of tetrathionate has been studied spectrophotometrically in the pH range of 9.2-12.2 using both phosphate/hydrogen phosphate and carbonate/hydrogen carbonate as buffer systems and by adjusting the ionic strength to I = 0.5 M with sodium perchlorate at T = 25.0 ± 0.1°C. Matrix rank analysis of the spectra recorded between 265 and 330 nm shows the presence of three independent absorbing species. Besides tetrathionate, thiosulfate and trithionate are identified as absorbing products of the decomposition, but sulfite and a trace amount of sulfate are also formed during the alkaline degradation process. With pentathionate, sulfoxylic acid (S(OH)2), S2O3OH-, and S3O3OH- as key intermediates, a 10-step kinetic model is proposed with six fitted kinetic parameters to take all the important characteristics of the experimental curves into account. On the basis of the stoichiometric measurements and the model proposed, it is also enlightened that the product distribution of the reaction continuously varies with pH; thus the kinetic traces cannot be evaluated by assuming a single stoichiometry in contrast to recent studies. Buffer dependence of the decomposition is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7654-7661
Number of pages8
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sep 3 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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