So on the data, it said that we can reduce potassium permanganate by utilizing oxalic acid, thus producing carbon dioxide. But can anyone propose a reaction mechanism of how the whole reaction happens, and how did oxalic acid break up into $\ce{CO2}$? Thanks in advance!


1 Answer 1


I think it would go through a manganese-oxalate complex (oxalate is a good ligand for many metals), and that would fragment via a reaction such as:

cyclic fragmentation of a manganese (VII) oxalate complex

The Mn(V) species would likely disproportionate to manganese dioxide and permanganate.

  • $\begingroup$ Couldn't understand can you do a more formal explanation ?Thanks a lot! $\endgroup$
    – user46899
    Jul 19, 2017 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ More formally, the complex shown results from adding oxalic acid to permanganate ion with elimination of a water molecule. The three curly arrows each represent a pair of electrons moving to shift the pattern of bonding from reactants to products. The result is a change of oxidation state (REDUCTION) of manganese from VII to V. Hope this helps! $\endgroup$
    – iad22agp
    Jul 20, 2017 at 4:02
  • $\begingroup$ But wouldn't the result became Mn (II) ion? $\endgroup$
    – user46899
    Jul 20, 2017 at 5:47
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    $\begingroup$ Either that or manganese (IV) dioxide, depending on pH and other factors--as a final result. But other intermediate oxidation states may be initially formed, but then disproportionate in a manner like what I gave in my original answer. If you want to go deeper on this, I am not your man. I urge you to post another question about this specific issue and let a bona fide inorganic chemist respond. $\endgroup$
    – iad22agp
    Jul 20, 2017 at 12:51

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