Multistructural Anharmonicity Controls the Radical Generation Process in Biofuel Combustion

Lili Xing, Zhandong Wang, Donald G. Truhlar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The OH radical plays an important role in combustion, and isopentanol (3-methylbutan-1-ol) is a promising sustainable fuel additive and second-generation biofuel. The abstractions of H atoms from fuel molecules are key initiation steps for chain branching in combustion chemistry. In comparison with the more frequently studied ethanol, isopentanol has a longer carbon chain that allows a greater number of products, and experimental work is unavailable for the branching fractions to the various products. However, the site-dependent kinetics of isopentanol with OH radicals are usually experimentally unavailable. Alcohol oxidation by OH is also important in the atmosphere, and in the present study we calculate the rate constants and branching fractions of the hydrogen abstraction reaction of isopentanol by OH radical in a broad temperature range of 298-2400 K, covering temperatures important for atmospheric chemistry and those important for combustion. The calculations are done by multipath variational transition state theory (MP-VTST). With a combination of electronic structure calculations, we determine previously missing thermochemical data. With MP-VTST, a multidimensional tunneling approximation, multiple-structure anharmonicity, and torsional potential anharmonicity, we carried out more realistic rate constant calculations than can be computed by conventional single-structure harmonic transition state theory or by the empirical relations that are currently used in atmospheric and combustion modeling. The roles of various factors in determining the rates are elucidated, and we show that recrossing, tunneling, and multiple structures are all essential for accurate work. We conclude that the multiple structure anharmonicity is the most important correction to conventional transition state theory for this reaction, although recrossing effects and tunneling are by no means insignificant and the tunneling depends significantly on the path. The thermodynamic and kinetics data determined in this work are indispensable for the gas-phase degradation of alcohols in the atmosphere and for the detailed understanding and prediction of ignition mechanisms of biofuels in combustion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18531-18543
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 20 2019

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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