Oxidation by molecular oxygen is one of the most practically important of all chemical processes. It is the basis of energy production in animals and, at the same time, a major cause of irreversible deterioration and ultimate death. Man uses oxygen positively in the production of energy by combustion, and many important industrial processes in the petrochemical industry are based on the controlled oxidation of hydrocarbons. At the same time, oxidation is the main cause of deterioration of foodstuffs and of many industrial polymers. It is of great practical importance that the mechanisms of oxidation and its prevention should be understood in order to utilize the reactions of oxygen more effectively but, equally important, to control the adverse effects of oxygen on man-made products and in biological systems. The three volumes of this work are directed towards these objectives. Although complementary to one another, the three volumes form a single whole and it is hoped that, by frequent cross-reference, readers will be enabled to utilize ideas and experience from other disciplines to enlighten their own. Volume 1 reviews current understanding of autoxidation, largely on the basis of the reactions of oxygen with characterised chemicals. From this flows the modern mechanism of antioxidant actions and their application in stabilization technology. Volume 2 examines the oxidation chemistry of carbon-based materials in more detail with emphasis on the technological phenomena that result from the attack of oxygen and the practical procedures developed to prevent them. Volume 3 addresses our understanding of how oxidation is involved both positively and negatively in life processes. Studies in this field provide the basis for understanding the complex oxidation chemistry of life processes and its control by biological antioxidants.
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