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Identify reactions requiring high basicity and what their applications are
math & sciences chemistry science materials science chemical engineering
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53 months ago
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ATTENTION: Solvers who submit by the halfway point  will receive feedback on their submission with the opportunity to update it.

As the world’s leading producer of alkoxides, Evonik’s Functional Solutions business line offers different grades of sodium and potassium methylates and ethylates. True to our vision: “We are the creators of new functional solutions”, our scientific curiosity and technical expertise constantly drives us to explore new application areas and markets where alkoxides could provide a benefit over conventional bases and base catalysts. 

Alkoxides are highly basic chemicals with strong nucleophilicity (where a nucleophile attacks an atom to form a chemical bond). These characteristics make them perfect candidates to carry out base catalysis in a multitude of reactions some of which include the production of margarine, fragrances, active ingredients in pharmaceuticals, food packaging, recycling of polymer wastes, etc.

What we are trying to explore and inviting you to explore with us are chemical reactions and applications that require a highly basic environment. We encourage you take this idea even further to investigate if alkoxides could potentially provide benefits in such applications over conventional bases.

An example of the type of solution we are looking for is as follows:

  1. A reaction that requires a highly basic environment is transesterification. This reaction is used to produce biodiesel.
  2. Traditionally, sodium hydroxide and methanol were used to catalyze the reaction and convert vegetable oil into biodiesel. However, sodium methylate can be used to catalyze this reaction making the process safer while increasing yields.

Note: Use of alkoxides in biodiesel production is simply an example and is commonly used in biodiesel plants all over the world. If your solution involves biodiesel, it should be novel. We encourage you to get creative, cite multiple applications and support your solution with explanations, reactions, diagrams.


Your challenge is to identify chemical reactions and applications that require a high basicity. Be as creative as possible. At a minimum, provide the following in your answer:

  1. Submit a description or equation explaining a reaction requiring a high basicity. A complete chemical equation is NOT necessary--instead, we're more interested in identifying the situation in which this reaction might occur. 
  2. What is a novel application for the reaction you identified?
  3. What would be the value of your identified reaction and application? What challenges might arise?

Further, you can also evaluate if the use of alkoxides in such systems will provide any advantage over conventional bases such as sodium/potassium hydroxide

Include reactions, diagrams, pictures, anything that helps in clearly communicating your idea to us. Acceptable file formats are .doc, .docx, and .pdf. 

    Submissions will be graded on the following criteria:
  • Meets Deliverables
  • Creativity
  • Clarity
Reward Tiers
4 Winners
will receive $200 each
10 Honorable Mentions
will receive $80 each
$200.00 C Cole Weiler Georgia Institute of Technology
$200.00 Picture?width=160 Deepak Raikwar IIT Hyderabad
$200.00 C Celeste Cavaliere Centennial College
$200.00 A Andrew Pingitore University of South Carolina
$80.00 A Alexandra Jednorski Drexel University
$80.00 Picture?width=160 Sukanya Sinha Indian Institute of Technology - Kharagpur
$80.00 Square pic 60 20200121 192854 Christopher Adjei-Frimpong University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa
$80.00 J Jade -- University of British Columbia
$80.00 S Shane Lawson Missouri University of Science and Technology
$80.00 Square pic 60 retrolga Pedro M University of Providence
$80.00 Square pic 60 20220413 071449 Joshua Y. Ansong UMaT
$80.00 Picture?width=160 Kanoa Cook University of California at Berkeley
$80.00 Picture?width=160 Mukund Madhav Goyal Johns Hopkins University
$80.00 Square pic 60 dsc02271 Sesha Surya Vara Prasad Reddy Karri Indian Institute of Technology - Kharagpur
Submission questions

What is/was your major in college or university?


Which of the follow courses have you completed?

Intro to Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
Physical Chemistry
Analytical Chemistry

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