Can organics be reduced in autoclaves

K N and P J Harris ecoli at cix.compulink.co.uk
Fri Dec 13 13:07:44 EST 1996

> ==========
> bionet/microbiology #4495, from mark_fuller at qmgate.anl.gov, 1025 
chars, Mon  09 Dec 1996 14:34:20 -0
> ----------
> Article: 5495 of bionet.microbiology
> Path: 
> From: Mark Fuller <mark_fuller at qmgate.anl.gov>
> Newsgroups: bionet.microbiology
> Subject: Can organics be reduced in autoclaves
> Date: Mon, 09 Dec 1996 14:34:20 -0600
> Organization: Argonne National Laboratory
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> I was wondering if anybody knows of any references which indicate that 
> organic compounds can be reduced during autoclaving.  I usually hear 
> people talk about autoclaving as "wet oxidation," which would seem to 
> indicate that thermal/chemical oxidation is occurring, not reduction.
> Any leads/references would be much appreciated.
> Mark Fuller, Ph.D.
> Argonne National Laboratory
> mark_fuller at qmgate.anl.gov
Hello Mark,
No refs I'm afraid but you have an interesting question. Two things come 
to mind.
(1) Autoclaving removes oxygen from the system just by stripping it out 
with steam. If a compound (methylene blue would serve as an example) 
needs a normal dissolved oxygen concentration to remain in an oxidised 
state than it would become "reduced" by autoclaving. This might be true 
of other compounds.
(2) A familiar result of autoclaving or heat treating soils is an 
increase in available (divalent and hence "reduced") manganese. So much 
so that the soils can be phytotoxic for a while. This implies a 
consequent "oxidation" of some other component. If this can happen 
between manganese and some unknown component it seems plausible that 
similar oxidation-reduction shifts could occur between other compounds.- 
some of which may be organic.
This is totally off the top of the head. What does anyone else think ?
Peter Harris,
Department of Soil Science,
Reading University, UK.

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