Not to be confused with the chlorite ion. Chlorine dioxide is a chemical compound with d2 16nd3 2 pdf formula ClO2. Chlorine dioxide is a neutral chlorine compound. It is very different from elemental chlorine, both in its chemical structure and in its behavior.
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One of the most important qualities of chlorine dioxide is its high water solubility, especially in cold water. The molecule ClO2 has an odd number of valence electrons, and therefore, it is a paramagnetic radical. Its electronic structure has long baffled chemists because none of the possible Lewis structures is very satisfactory. Chlorine dioxide is a compound that can decompose extremely violently when separated from diluting substances. As a result, preparation methods that involve producing solutions of it without going through a gas-phase stage are often preferred. Arranging handling in a safe manner is essential.
The commercially more important production route uses methanol as the reducing agent and sulfuric acid for the acidity. Two advantages of not using the chloride-based processes are that there is no formation of elemental chlorine, and that sodium sulfate, a valuable chemical for the pulp mill, is a side-product. These methanol-based processes provide high efficiency and can be made very safe. A much smaller, but important, market for chlorine dioxide is for use as a disinfectant. Since 1999 a growing proportion of the chlorine dioxide made globally for water treatment and other small-scale applications has been made using the chlorate, hydrogen peroxide and sulfuric acid method, which can produce a chlorine-free product at high efficiency. Alternatively, hydrogen peroxide may be efficiently used in small-scale applications.
ClO2 may explosively decompose into chlorine and oxygen. As a disinfectant it is effective even at low concentrations because of its unique qualities. The use of chlorine dioxide minimizes the amount of organochlorine compounds produced. Chlorine dioxide is also used to bleach flour. The Niagara Falls, New York, water treatment plant first used chlorine dioxide for drinking water treatment in 1944 for phenol destruction. Chlorine dioxide was introduced as a drinking water disinfectant on a large scale in 1956, when Brussels, Belgium, changed from chlorine to chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide is less corrosive than chlorine and superior for the control of legionella bacteria.
The use of chlorine dioxide in water treatment leads to the formation of the by-product chlorite, which is currently limited to a maximum of 1 ppm in drinking water in the USA. Chlorine dioxide has many applications as an oxidizer or disinfectant. Chlorine dioxide can be used for air disinfection and was the principal agent used in the decontamination of buildings in the United States after the 2001 anthrax attacks. Sometimes chlorine dioxide is used as a fumigant treatment to “sanitize” fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries that develop molds and yeast.