Computational study on the properties and structure of methyl lactate.

Research paper by Santiago S Aparicio

Indexed on: 11 May '07Published on: 11 May '07Published in: Journal of Physical Chemistry A


A theoretical study on the properties and molecular level structure of the very important green solvent methyl lactate is carried out in the gas phase and methanol and water solutions, with the solvent treated both explicitly and as a continuum. Torsional barriers giving rise to different conformers by rotation of the hydroxyl and methyl groups were analyzed using density functional theory (DFT) to establish the most stable conformer both in gas phase and solution. DFT computations on lactate dimers were also done to study short-range features, and the effect of the surrounding solvent on intra- and intermolecular hydrogen bonding was analyzed according to the polarizable continuum model approach. We have also studied lactate/water and lactate/methanol small clusters together with the corresponding binding energies. Moreover, classical molecular dynamics simulations (MD) were carried out to study medium- and large-range effects at lower computational cost. MD simulations at different pressure and temperature conditions on pure lactate were carried out, and mixtures with water and methanol of different compositions were also studied. Structural information, analyzed through the radial distribution functions, together with dynamic aspects of pure and mixed fluids were considered. The intramolecular hydrogen bonding ability of methyl lactate together with the possibility of homo- and hetero-intermolecular association determines the behavior of this molecule in pure fluids or in mixed.