Sodium bismuthate is an inorganic compound, and a strong oxidiser. It is somewhat hygroscopic, but not soluble in cold water, which can be convenient since the reagent can be easily removed after the reaction. It is one of the few water insoluble sodium salts. Commercial samples may be a mixture of bismuth(V) oxide, sodium carbonate and sodium peroxide.
Sodium bismuth oxide
3D model (JSmol)
|Molar mass||279.968 g/mol|
|Appearance||Yellow to yellowish-brown odorless powder|
|Insoluble in cold, decomposes in hot water|
|R-phrases (outdated)||R22, R36/37/38|
|S-phrases (outdated)||S26, S36|
|Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):|
LD50 (median dose)
|420 mg/kg (rat, oral)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Sodium bismuthate adopts an ilmenite structure, consisting of octahedral bismuth(V) centers and sodium cations. The average Bi-O distance is 2.116 Å. The ilmenite structure is related to the corundum structure (Al2O3) with a layer structure formed by close packed oxygen atoms with the two different cations alternating in octahedral sites.
Bismuth oxidizes to the +V oxidation state only with difficulty – the simple oxide Bi2O5 remains poorly characterized – and in the absence of alkali. The synthesis of NaBiO3 involves oxidizing a mixture of sodium oxide and bismuth(III) oxide with air (as the source of O2):
- Na2O + Bi2O3 + O2 → 2 NaBiO3
Storage conditions with moisture and high temperatures are detrimental to sodium bismuthate, as it oxidizes water, decomposing into sodium hydroxide and bismuth(III) oxide:
- 2 NaBiO3 + H2O → 2 NaOH + Bi2O3 + O2
NaBiO3 may be used to detect manganese qualitatively and quantitatively. As a strong oxidizer, it converts almost any manganese compound to permanganate, which is easily assayed spectrophotometrically. To do this, some NaBiO3 and the sample are reacted in a hot solution of sulfuric acid or nitric acid. Permanganate has a violet color and maximum absorbance at 510 nm. The reaction is:
- 2 Mn2+ + 5 NaBiO3 + 14 H+ → 2 MnO4− + 5 Bi3+ + 5 Na+ + 7 H2O
- R2C(OH)–C(OH)–R2 → R2C=O + O=CR2
- R2C(OH)–C(O)–R → R2C=O + RCOOH
- R2C(OH)–COOH → R2C=O + CO2
These cleavages can be done in the presence of acetic or phosphoric acid at room temperature. Alcohols like methanol or ethanol can be used as the reaction media, as they are oxidized slowly with sodium bismuthate. Lead tetraacetate performs similar reactions, but anhydrous conditions, as required in the use of lead tetraacetate, are not necessary for sodium bismuthate.
NaBiO3 can be used for lab-scale plutonium separation (see bismuth phosphate process).
NaBiO3 is a mild mechanical irritant. Upon ingestion it is moderately toxic with symptoms akin to lead poisoning: abdominal pain and vomiting. Large doses cause diarrhea and death. Continued absorption of NaBiO3 into body causes permanent kidney damage. These effects are due to the toxicity of bismuth. Oral absolute lethal dose (LD100) of NaBiO3 is 720 mg/kg for rats, and 510 mg/kg for rabbits.
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- Suzuki, p. 373
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