In analytical chemistry, the hydroxyl value is defined as the number of milligrams of potassium hydroxide required to neutralize the acetic acid taken up on acetylation of one gram of a chemical substance that contains free hydroxyl groups. Hydroxyl value is a measure of the content of free hydroxyl groups in a chemical substance, usually expressed in units of the mass of potassium hydroxide (KOH) in milligrams equivalent to the hydroxyl content of one gram of the chemical substance. The analytical method used to determine hydroxyl value traditionally involves acetylation of the free hydroxyl groups of the substance with acetic anhydride in pyridine solvent. After completion of the reaction, water is added, and the remaining unreacted acetic anhydride is converted to acetic acid and measured by titration with potassium hydroxide.
The hydroxyl value can be calculated using the following equation. Note that a chemical substance may also have a measurable acid value affecting the measured end point of the titration. The acid value (AV) of the substance, determined in a separate experiment, enters into this equation as a correction factor in the calculation of the hydroxyl value (HV):
Where HV is the hydroxyl value; VB is the amount (ml) potassium hydroxide solution required for the titration of the blank; Vacet is the amount (ml) of potassium hydroxide solution required for the titration of the acetylated sample; Wacet is the weight of sample (in grams) used for acetylation; N is the normality of the titrant; 56.1 is the molecular weight of potassium hydroxide; AV is a separately determined acid value of the chemical substance.
The content of free hydroxyl groups in a substance can also be determined by methods other than acetylation. Determinations of hydroxyl content by other methods may instead be expressed as a weight percentage (wt. %) of hydroxyl groups in units of the mass of hydroxide functional groups in grams per 100 grams of substance. The conversion between hydroxyl value and other hydroxyl content measurements is obtained by multiplying the hydroxyl value by the factor 17/560. The chemical substance may be a fat, oil, natural or synthetic ester, or other polyol.
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