This work reports density functional and composite model chemistry calculations performed on the reactions of toluene with the hydroxyl radical. Both the experimentally observed H-abstraction from the methyl group and possible OH additions to the phenyl ring were investigated. Reaction enthalpies and barrier heights suggest that H-abstraction is more favorable than OH-addition to the ring. The calculated reaction rates at room temperature and the radical intermediate product fractions support this view. At first sight, this might seem to disagree with the fact that, under most experimental conditions, cresols are observed in a larger concentration than benzaldehyde. Since the accepted mechanism for benzaldehyde formation involves H-abstraction, a contradiction arises that calls for a more elaborate explanation. In this first exploratory study, we provide evidence that support the preference of H-abstraction over OH addition and present an alternative mechanism which shows that cresols can be actually produced also through H-abstraction and not only from OH-addition, thus justifying the larger proportion of cresols than benzaldehyde among the products.

A reinvestigation of the deceptively simple reaction of toluene with OH, and the fate of the benzyl radical : a combined thermodynamic and kinetic study on the competition between OH-addition and H-abstraction reactions

Zoi Salta
;
Vincenzo Barone
2020

Abstract

This work reports density functional and composite model chemistry calculations performed on the reactions of toluene with the hydroxyl radical. Both the experimentally observed H-abstraction from the methyl group and possible OH additions to the phenyl ring were investigated. Reaction enthalpies and barrier heights suggest that H-abstraction is more favorable than OH-addition to the ring. The calculated reaction rates at room temperature and the radical intermediate product fractions support this view. At first sight, this might seem to disagree with the fact that, under most experimental conditions, cresols are observed in a larger concentration than benzaldehyde. Since the accepted mechanism for benzaldehyde formation involves H-abstraction, a contradiction arises that calls for a more elaborate explanation. In this first exploratory study, we provide evidence that support the preference of H-abstraction over OH addition and present an alternative mechanism which shows that cresols can be actually produced also through H-abstraction and not only from OH-addition, thus justifying the larger proportion of cresols than benzaldehyde among the products.
Settore CHIM/02 - Chimica Fisica
Toluene; Hydroxyl radical; Photodegradation; Atmospheric chemistry; Density functional methods
Fondi MUR
PRIN 2017, prot. 2017A4XRCA
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11384/124395
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