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Mapping the kinetic and thermodynamic landscape of formaldehyde oligomerization under neutral conditions.

Authors
  • Kua, Jeremy
  • Avila, Joseph E
  • Lee, Christopher G
  • Smith, William D
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Journal of Physical Chemistry A
Publisher
American Chemical Society
Publication Date
Nov 27, 2013
Volume
117
Issue
47
Pages
12658–12667
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1021/jp4098292
PMID: 24191666
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Density functional theory calculations, including Poisson-Boltzmann implicit solvent and free energy corrections, are applied to study the thermodynamic and kinetic free energy landscape of formaldehyde oligomerization up to the C4 species in aqueous solution at pH 7. Oligomerization via C-O bond formation leads to linear polyoxymethylene (POM) species, which are the most kinetically accessible oligomers and are marginally thermodynamically favored over their oxane ring counterparts. On the other hand, C-C bond formation via aldol reactions leads to sugars that are thermodynamically much more stable in free energy than POM species; however, the barrier to dimerization is very high. Once this initial barrier is traversed, subsequent addition of monomers to generate trimers and tetramers is kinetically more feasible. In the aldol reaction, enolization of the oligomers provides the lowest energy pathway to larger oligomers. Our study provides a baseline free energy map for further study of oligomerization reactions under catalytic conditions, and we discuss how this will lead to a better understanding of complex reaction mixtures with multiple intermediates and products.

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