A. C. Doner, J. Zádor, B. Rotavera
Journal of Physical Chemistry A, Vol. 127
Publication year: 2023

Alkyl-substituted oxetanes are cyclic ethers formed via unimolecular reactions of QOOH radicals produced via a six-membered transition state in the preceding isomerization step of organic peroxy radicals, ROO. Owing to radical isomer-specific formation pathways, cyclic ethers are unambiguous proxies for inferring QOOH reaction rates. Therefore, accounting for subsequent oxidation of cyclic ethers is important in order to accurately determine rates for QOOH → products. Cyclic ethers can react via unimolecular reaction (ring-opening) or via bimolecular reaction with O2 to form cyclic ether-peroxy adducts. The computations herein provide reaction mechanisms and theoretical rate coefficients for the former type in order to determine competing pathways for the cyclic ether radicals. Rate coefficients of unimolecular reactions of 2,4-dimethyloxetanyl radicals were computed using master equation modeling from 0.01 to 100 atm and from 300 to 1000 K. Coupled-cluster methods were utilized for stationary-point energy calculations, and uncertainties in the computed rate coefficients were accounted for using variation in barrier heights and in well depths. The potential energy surfaces reveal accessible channels to several species via crossover reactions, such as 2-methyltetrahydrofuran-5-yl and pentanonyl isomers. For the range of temperature over which 2,4-dimethyloxetane forms during n-pentane oxidation, the following are the major channels: 2,4-dimethyloxetan-1-yl → acetaldehyde + allyl, 2,4-dimethyloxetan-2-yl → propene + acetyl, and 2,4-dimethyloxetan-3-yl → 3-butenal + methyl, or, 1-penten-3-yl-4-ol. Well-skipping reactions were significant in a number of channels and also exhibited a markedly different pressure dependence. The calculations show that rate coefficients for ring-opening are approximately an order of magnitude lower for the tertiary 2,4-dimethyloxetanyl radicals than for the primary and secondary 2,4-dimethyloxetanyl radicals. Unlike for reactions of the corresponding ROO radicals, however, unimolecular rate coefficients are independent of the stereochemistry. Moreover, rate coefficients of cyclic ether radical ring-opening are of the same order of magnitude as O2 addition, underscoring the point that a competing network of reactions is necessary to include for accurate chemical kinetics modeling of species profiles for cyclic ethers.