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6.2.2 Bipolar Stacked Cells

DOI: 10.1055/sos-SD-236-00125

Villani, E.; Inagi, S.Science of Synthesis: Electrochemistry in Organic Synthesis, (20211159.

In 1965, Monsanto started to commercialize a process based on bipolar electrochemistry for the reductive electrohydrodimerization of acrylonitrile to adiponitrile, an intermediate in the manufacture of Nylon 66 (see Scheme 1).[‌6‌] Even if the principle of cathodic hydrocoupling of acrylonitrile had already been known since the 1940s, it was only at the beginning of the 1960s that Baizer discovered the use of quaternary ammonium salts as supporting electrolytes to improve the yield and current efficiency of the coupling reaction.[‌28‌] Therefore, this synthetic process is called the Baizer–Monsanto process, or simply the Monsanto process. It is carried out in a bipolar cell of simple design (Figure 7, b), consisting of a bipolar stack of carbon steel sheets whose cathode faces are smoothly electroplated with cadmium to a thickness of 0.1 to 0.2 mm.[‌29‌] The anode–cathode gap is fixed at 2-mm distance by plastic spacers in a pressure vessel, and the electrolyte is fed uniformly across the parallel interelectrode gaps. The emulsion is recycled through the cell from a reservoir and a fraction of the organic phase is removed continuously for extraction of the product. This process is still in operation today, with a volume capacity of hundreds of thousands of tons per year worldwide.[‌30‌]

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