Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent used in aqueous solution as a ripening agent, bleach, and topical anti-infective. It is relatively unstable and solutions deteriorate over time unless stabilized by the addition of acetanilide or similar organic materials.
It is one of the cleanest chemicals with the highest level of versatility. It has a variety of application areas:
In this field, it has found its use as an oxidizing agent. Hydrogen peroxide has a low molecular weight; it is thus a more efficient oxidizing agent than potassium permanganate or dichromate. It is solvable in several organic solvents including water and the substrate itself.
Hydrogen peroxide is a highly microbiologically safe reagent. Therefore, it is used as a sterilizing agent for the internal aseptic zones of the manufacturing machines and the surface of the packaging material that will be in contact with the food.
Cosmetics & Medicine:
Hydrogen peroxide oxidizing property makes is suitable for use in the cosmetics and medical fields as a disinfectant and a bleaching agent. For instance, in cosmetics, it is used as an antimicrobial agent during oxidative hair dying while in medicine it increases the whiteness of teeth by oxygenating stains.
In this field, it finds its use as an oxidizing and a cleaning agent. The production process of printed circuits boards uses hydrogen peroxide as an etchant. The manufacturing process of semiconductors uses high-quality electronic grade hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizing and cleaning agent.
Hydrogen peroxide is environmentally and ecologically friendly; hence, it finds use in a variety of applications related to the environment e.g. in an advanced oxidation process (AOP). The AOP process uses hydroxyl radicals to decompose toxic substances. Technological processes also use hydrogen peroxide to reduce their negative environmental impact.
In the food processing industry, hydrogen peroxide is the most commonly used bleaching agent where it finds its use as a peroxygen reagent. Natural oils, natural sugars, waxes, starch, and gums are some of the compounds bleached using peroxides.
The mining industry uses hydrogen peroxide both as an oxygen source and as an oxidizing agent. For instance, it is used in gold and uranium production processes in concentrates preparation and ore leaching.
Pulp and Paper Industry:
In this industry, it is used as a versatile bleaching agent especially in chemical pulp bleaching sequences. In mechanical pulp bleaching, it is used as the core-bleaching agent. In paper recycling plants, it finds its application as a de-inking agent.
Hydrogen peroxide is the prime bleaching agent in natural and synthetic fibers treatment, which include wool, linen, cotton, silk, and rayon. It gives the fibers a high degree of brightness while at the same time preserving their mechanical properties.
Highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide finds its use as a propellant in the transportation industry. For instance, hypergolic bipropellant engines, which are used in monopropellant systems and launch vehicles, use high concentration hydrogen peroxide.