In organic chemistry, potassium dichromate is a mild oxidizer compared with potassium permanganate. It is used to oxidize alcohols. It converts primary alcohols into aldehydes, or into carboxylic acids if heated under reflux. In contrast, with permanganate, carboxylic acids are the sole products. Secondary alcohols are converted into ketones — no further oxidation possible. For example, menthone may be prepared by oxidation of menthol with acidified dichromate. Tertiary alcohols are not oxidized by potassium dichromate.
In an aqueous solution the colour change exhibited can be used to test whether an aldehyde or ketone is present. When an aldehyde is present the chromium ions will be reduced from the +6 to the +3 oxidation state, changing colour from orange to green. This is because the aldehyde can be further oxidized to the corresponding carboxylic acid. A ketone will show no such change because it cannot be oxidized further, and so the solution will remain orange.
The excess dichromate is determined by titration against sodium thiosulfate. Subtracting the amount of excess dichromate from the initial amount, gives the amount of ethanol present. Accuracy can be improved by calibrating the dichromate solution against a blank.
One major application for this reaction is in old police breathalyzer tests. When alcohol vapor makes contact with the yellow dichromate-coated crystals, the color changes from yellow to green. The degree of the color change is directly related to the level of alcohol in the suspect's breath.
Potassium dichromate is used in the homeopathic preparation of Kali (or Kalium) bichromicum, although little or none remains in the final dilution. One notable homeopathic product that contains it as the active ingredient is HeadOn, in which the potassium dichromate is diluted to one part per million.
Gum bichromate printing was one of the very first stable photographic printing processes, dating back to about 1850. A solution of gum arabic and potassium dichromate, once applied to paper and dried, will harden when exposed to ultraviolet light.
Chromium intensification uses potassium dichromate together with equal parts of concentrated hydrochloric acid diluted down to approximately 10% v/v to treat weak and thin negatives of black and white photograph roll. This solution reconverts the elemental silver particles in the film to silver chloride. After thorough washing and exposure to actinic light, the film can be redeveloped to its end-point yielding a stronger negative which is able to produce a more satisfactory print.
A potassium dichromate solution in sulfuric acid can be used to produce a reversal negative (i.e,. a positive transparency from a negative film). This is effected by developing a black and white film but allowing the development to proceed more or less to the end point. The development is then stopped by copious washing and the film then treated in the acid dichromate solution. This converts the silver metal to silver sulfate, a compound that is insensitive to light. After thorough washing and exposure to actinic light, the film is developed again allowing the previously unexposed silver halide to be reduced to silver metal.
The results obtained can be unpredictable, but sometimes excellent results are obtained producing images that would otherwise be unobtainable. This process can be coupled with solarisation so that the end product resembles a negative and is suitable for printing in the normal way.
In screen-printing a fine screen of bolting silk or similar material is stretched taut onto a frame similar to the way canvas is prepared before painting. A colloid sensitized with a dichromate is applied evenly to the taut screen. Once the dichromate mixture is dry, a full-size photographic negative is attached securely onto the surface of the screen, and the whole assembly exposed to strong light - typically about half an hour in bright sunlight - hardening the exposed colloid. When the negative is removed, the unexposed mixture on the screen can be washed off with warm water, leaving the hardened mixture intact, acting as a precise mask of the desired pattern, which can then be printed with the usual screen-printing process.
As with other CrVI compounds, potassium dichromate is carcinogenic and should be handled with gloves and appropriate health and safety protection. The compound is also corrosive and exposure may produce severe eye damage or blindness.
Q What Excites You, Noorul? A I Love the Formula for Potassium dichromate.It's K2Cr2O7. That's Brilliant; CAN FIRED TEACHER REALLY BE AS DULL IN REAL LIFE?
Apr 30, 2009; Byline: MATT ROPER VIEWERS know him as the man with the Zzzzz factor. Noorul Choudhury, fired last night by Sir Alan Sugar, has...