Unconventional Peroxy Chemistry in Alcohol Oxidation: The Water Elimination Pathway

Abstract

Predictive simulation for designing efficient engines requires detailed modeling of combustion chemistry, for which the possibility of unknown pathways is a continual concern. Here, we characterize a low-lying water elimination pathway from key hydroperoxyalkyl (QOOH) radicals derived from alcohols. The corresponding saddle-point structure involves the interaction of radical and zwitterionic electronic states. This interaction presents extreme difficulties for electronic structure characterizations, but we demonstrate that these properties of this saddle point can be well captured by M06-2X and CCSD­(T) methods. Experimental evidence for the existence and relevance of this pathway is shown in recently reported data on the low-temperature oxidation of isopentanol and isobutanol. In these systems, water elimination is a major pathway, and is likely ubiquitous in low-temperature alcohol oxidation. These findings will substantially alter current alcohol oxidation mechanisms. Moreover, the methods described will be useful for the more general phenomenon of interacting radical and zwitterionic states

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