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The Modern Chemist’s Guide to Hydrogen Peroxide and Peracetic Acid

How two of the world’s most versatile chemicals are transforming
wastewater treatment, food and dairy packaging, and chemical synthesis

It is difficult to think of a more versatile chemical than hydrogen peroxide.


As of early 2015, the global capacity for uses for hydrogen peroxide had reached 5.5 million metric tons
per year. Three decades ago, global utilization of the chemical was 0.5 million metric tons per year. As
capacity has grown, “hydrogen peroxide turned from being an expensive specialty chemical into a largescale
commodity, plentiful and affordable, opening up the route to several new uses of this valued
substance, which are highly beneficial to the environment,” Mario Pagliaro and his colleagues from the
Italian National Research Council recently reported in a green chemistry journal.


Hydrogen peroxide can be used to build up high-value organic molecules such as pharmaceuticals, or
to break down the most stubborn industrial by-products. It can kill the harmful pathogenic bacteria
that could otherwise contaminate packaged food and beverages, or it can supply essential oxygen to
the beneficial bacteria that are a key component of municipal wastewater treatment. Factor in the
additional potential uses of hydrogen peroxide’s close chemical cousin, peracetic acid, and the number
of applications expands again.

Learn more about the versatility of hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid in our free eBook.