Degenerate chain-branching mechanisms of n-alkanes are centered on the formation of hydroperoxy-alkyl radicals (Q̇OOH), formed via Ṙ + O2 reactions, and the ensuing competition between unimolecular decomposition and second-O2-addition. Quantitative measurements of partially oxidized intermediates formed via reactions of Q̇OOH provide critical constraints that are required for accurate modeling of combustion chemistry. To examine the influence of temperature and oxygen concentration on intermediates from unimolecular decomposition of Q̇OOH, isomer-resolved speciation measurements were conducted on n-butane oxidation at 835 Torr in a jet-stirred reactor (JSR) from 500 – 900 K. Resulting from negative-temperature coefficient behavior, cyclic ether formation peaked at two temperatures, 650 K and 800 K, which were selected for separate experiments to quantify the O2-dependence of species profiles using O2 concentrations of 4.2 · 1017 – 1.1 · 1019 molecules cm–3.
Utilizing vacuum-ultraviolet absorption spectroscopy and electron-impact mass spectrometry, cyclic ether isomers were quantified separately, including explicit resolution of cis– and trans– isomers of 2,3-dimethyloxirane. Stereoisomers of 2-butene were also quantified explicitly. For all cyclic ethers, a common trend in O2-dependence emerged: species concentrations reach a maximum near 3.0 · 1018 molecules cm–3 (equivalence ratio of 0.5). Although quantitative disparities are evident, chemical kinetics modeling qualitatively reproduces the O2 dependence of species at 650 K. However, at 800 K, weak dependence on O2 is predicted, which is in contrast with the measurements. Two carbonyls, diacetyl and methyl vinyl ketone, were also quantified and follow similar dependence on [O2] and temperature as the cyclic ethers, which indicates some fraction forms via Q̇OOH-mediated reactions. The discrepancies between the measured and model-predicted species profiles indicate that sub-mechanisms for important intermediates may require additional elementary reactions, including stereochemical-specific reactions, to improve the fidelity of n-alkane combustion modeling.