There is no 'nascent hydrogen' mentioned here. Activated H2 via chemisportion, and its many associated recents references (I only gave two) are easy found in the same very highly regarded journals I cited (note the copyright from the American Chemical Society). So forget all the non-truths to support a baseless position (asserted absolutely, no less, despite numerous possible chain reaction failings and, even more problematic, that proposition cannot explain a single experimental observed particularity).
Now, the open question in this Na forum, is not the formation of Sodium without electrolysis (that has been done), but can it be performed safely. Now, assume you have a reaction preparation that does form K at ambient (or safe temperatures). Does adding NaCl, mean that you now have a safe path to Sodium? Or, can you just use NaOH in place of KOH? My understanding of the reaction path for K, still being explored and apparently debated, indicate paths for which this would not be favored.
So, back to path exploration, here are the results of more research, and I would appreciate some honest feedback (but fear of that moderator may inhibit your honesty, I understand):
First, per Wikipedia (link: http://en.wikipedia....AlkoxideSection ), under heading "Thermal stability" of metal alkoxides, to quote:
"Many metal alkoxides thermally decompose in the range ~100–300 °C. Depending on process conditions, this thermolysis can afford nanosized powders of oxide or metallic phases. This approach is a basis of processes of fabrication of functional materials intended for aircraft, space, electronic fields, and chemical industry: individual oxides, their solid solutions, complex oxides, powders of metals and alloys active towards sintering."
Now, this is applicable to both Na and K metal alkoxides. Also, in a recent thread at ScienceMadness, Nicodem warned Blogfast about stability issues asociated with alkoxides per his personal experience. However, the possible decomposition products cited here by Wikipedia are of particular interest, including a metallic phase (the liberation of metallic Potassium?) and/or nanosized K2O. This is in further support ot the reverse formation proposition of KOR to K that I have proposed previously.
Next, in the particular case of nanosized Potassium oxide formation, K2O (from the decomposition of KOR) could be attacked with H2 via chemisorption (on nanostructured MgO, see, for example, "H2 chemisorption and consecutive UV stimulated surface reactions on nanostructured MgO", in Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 1999,1, 713-721., see also "Theoretical aspects of H2 and CO chemisorption on MgO surfaces", Surface Science (May 1982), 117 (1-3), pg. 571-580.) This may not be the case for Na2O as there is no supporting literature on chemisorption.
But, even disgarding this path, there is still a possible hydrogenation reaction, although occurring rarely (per Wikipedia, link: http://en.wikipedia....i/Hydrogenation) for reactions below 480 °C between H2 and organic compounds in the absence of metal catalysts. However, with respect to rare exceptions, Wikipedia also states under the topic "Metal-free Hydrogenation", that to quote: "Hydrogenation can, however, proceed from some hydrogen donors without catalysts, illustrative hydrogen donors being diimide and aluminium isopropoxide. Some metal-free catalytic systems have been investigated in academic research. One such system for reduction of ketones consists of tert-butanol and potassium tert-butoxide and very high temperatures.".
I would observe that perhaps this is related to the formation of K2O, which is apparently employed in mixed oxide catalyst for hydrogenation (see, for example, "Promotion effect of K2O and MnO additives on the selective production of light alkenes via syngas over Fe/silicalite-2 catalysts"). This path is particular to K and, as such, excludes the formation of Sodium again.
In any event, my opinion is that the simple thermal decompostion of potassium tert-butoxide (simple and perhaps now the best explanation, and also for the Na salt), by itself, or in the presence of activated H2 per chemisportion on MgO, or via hydrogenation in the presence of K2O, may be some alternate explanations with peer reviewed references.
Now, I want to be fair, some more research on the direct reaction of Mg with KOR (or NaOR), and there is nothing supporting the direct replacement reaction by Mg as proposed liberating K (or Na). For example, see "Reactions of Magnesium and Titanium Alkoxides. Preparation and Characterization of Alkoxy-Derived Magnesium Titanate Powders and Ceramics". To quote the entire abstract:
The interaction between magnesium and titanium alkoxides is studied in order to chose the best precursors for synthesis of MgTiO3. No reaction between magnesium and titanium methoxides and isopropoxides occurs. The solubility diagrams for Mg(OR)2-Ti(OR)4-ROH, R = Et,-Bu at 20°C are studied. Magnesium ethoxotitanates of variable composition MgnTi4-n (OEt)16-2nċ2nEtOH (n=2.0-0) which are structural analogs of Ti4(OR)16 (R = Me, Et) are isolated. This is a quite unusual example of statistical distribution of heteroatoms in molecular structures of metal alkoxides. Among the systems of metal alkoxides with simple aliphatic radicals only Mg(OBu)2-Ti(OBu)4-BuOH gives a convenient precursor for the synthesis of MgTiO3. A simple scheme of preparation of magnesium titanate from the alkoxide solutions is suggested. The phase purity of MgTiO3 is to a considerable extent dependent on the hydrolysis conditions. The alkoxy-derived magnesium titanate is obtained in the form of a uniform fine powder, it can be sintered into dense ceramics in the temperature range of 1140–1220°C which is 150–200°C lower in comparison with the conventional powders"
Interestingly here, when products are produced, mixed salts (and not deposits of titanium) occurred. Other searches on Springer's articles also only produced references to oxide formation reactions.
With time, and observations, my basic argument appears only to get more supporting paths and, so far, a total lack of rationale for the other side at the very ambient temperature recommended for this reaction. But, if I have missed something, please cited it, and unlike the others pushing their position, I welcome open supported discussion, which so far your comments are lacking, both in accuracy (no nascent H2 here, just well researched paths to activated hydrogen in journals of physical chemistry), and no apparent attempt to educate yourself by researching and citing references. Remember, good science always wins in the end.
[EDIT] I have recently come to a somewhat uncomplimentary view, based on my research, as to how this Potassium reaction was discovered. It owes it genesis, I suspect, to a failed preparation of KOR. The KOR is formed, and subsequently, perhaps unexpectingly, decomposes, liberating K on occasion. Is this translatable to Na? Wow, what a revelation if I am correct!
Edited by ajkoer, 25 April 2013 - 04:52 AM.