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Organic Chemistry Text Book (CHEM 3401 and 3402)

13.3.2 Peroxide Formation

Ethers in which oxygen is bonded to 1º- and 2º-alkyl groups are subject to peroxide formation in the presence of air (gaseous oxygen). This reaction presents an additional hazard to the use of these flammable solvents, since peroxides decompose explosively when heated or struck. The mechanism of peroxide formation is believed to be free radical in nature (note that molecular oxygen has two unpaired electrons).


R–O–CH(CH3)2   +   O2 R–O–C(CH3)2–O–O–H   a peroxide