Dow process

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The Dow process is the electrolytic method of bromine extraction from brine, and was Herbert Henry Dow's second revolutionary process for generating bromine commercially.

This process was patented in 1891. In the original invention, bromide-containing brines are treated with sulfuric acid and bleaching powder to oxidize bromide to bromine, which remains dissolved in the water. The aqueous solution is dripped onto burlap, and water is blown through causing bromine to volatilize. Bromine is trapped with iron turnings to give a solution of ferric bromide. Treatment with more iron metal converted the ferric bromide to ferrous bromide via comproportionation. Where desired, free bromine may be obtained by thermal decomposition of ferrous bromide.[1]

Before Dow got into the bromine business, brine was evaporated by heating with wood scraps and then crystallized sodium chloride was removed. An oxidizing agent was added, and bromine was formed in the solution. Then bromine was distilled. This was a very complicated and costly process.

Dow's Process may also refer to the hydrolysis of chlorobenzene in the preparation of phenol. Benzene can be easily converted to chlorobenzene by electrophilic aromatic substitution. It is treated with dilute sodium hydroxide at 350 °C and 300 bar to convert it to sodium phenoxide, which yields phenol upon acidification.[2] This reaction is quickened manifold in the presence of electron withdrawing groups (such as -NO2) ortho and/or para to the halogen group.


  1. ^ US 460370, H. H. Dow, "Process of Extracting Bromine", issued 1891-09-29 
  2. ^