First principles study of the reaction of formic and acetic acids with hydroxyl radicals.

Research paper by Wenjie W Sun, Mark M Saeys

Indexed on: 10 Jul '08Published on: 10 Jul '08Published in: Journal of Physical Chemistry A


The oxidation of formic and acetic acids with hydroxyl radicals was studied as a model for the oxidation of larger carboxylic acids using first principles calculations. For formic acid, the CBS-QB3 activation barriers of 14.1 and 12.4 kJ/mol for the acid and for the formyl channel, respectively, are within 3 kJ/mol of benchmark W1U values. Tunneling significantly enhances the rate coefficient for the acid channel and is responsible for the dominance of the acid channel at 298 K. At 298 K, tunneling correction factors of 339 and 2.0 were calculated for the acid and the formyl channel using the small-curvature tunneling method and the CBS-QB3 potential energy surface. The Wigner, Eckart, and zero-curvature tunneling methods severely underestimate the importance of tunneling for the acid channel. The resulting reaction rate coefficient of 0.98 x 10(5) m(3)/(mol x s) at 298 K is within a factor 2-3 of experimental values. For acetic acid, an activation barrier of 11.0 kJ/mol and a tunneling correction factor of 199 were calculated for the acid channel. Two mechanisms compete for hydrogen abstraction at the methyl group, with activation barriers of 11.9 and 12.5 kJ/mol and tunneling correction factors of 9.1 and 4.1 at 298 K. The resulting rate coefficient of 1.2 x 10(5) m(3)/(mol x s) at 298 K and branching ratio of 94% compare well with experimental data.