An experimental and kinetic modeling study of the pyrolysis of isoprene, a significant biogenic hydrocarbon in naturally occurring vegetation fires

E. Grajales-González*, Goutham Kukkadapu, Shashank S. Nagaraja, Can Shao, M. Monge-Palacios, Javier E. Chavarrio, Scott W. Wagnon, Henry J. Curran, William J. Pitz, S. Mani Sarathy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Isoprene dominates the carbon flux emitted by vegetation and constitutes 40% of non-methane biogenic emissions worldwide. Despite pyrolysis experiments at temperatures above 1000 K showing a link between isoprene combustion and aromatic species formation, comprehensive mechanistic research on isoprene is scarce in the literature. In this work, we carry out an experimental and theoretical study to build, for the first time, a chemical kinetic model describing isoprene pyrolysis. The formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) precursor species, often observed in vegetation fire plumes, is partially explained by isoprene pyrolysis experiments and theoretical modeling. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations unveil reaction pathways from allylic isoprenyl radicals to allene and cyclopentadiene (CPD) intermediates, two relevant species detected in the experiments. Rate constants for these identified pathways are calculated using variational transition state theory to update the kinetic model, which is validated against single-pulse shock tube (SPST), and jet-stirred reactor (JSR) experimental data in the temperature range of 850–1690 K. The kinetic model presents satisfactory agreement with the SPST experimental data, and a reaction pathway analysis shows that association of propargyl radicals results in benzene formation. The JSR pathway analysis also identifies the prominent reactions for CPD, benzene, styrene, and toluene formation. Our model does not reproduce the CPD experimental profiles, indicating that additional studies are necessary. Overall, our findings advance the understanding of isoprene pyrolysis and its related atmospheric pollutants in naturally occurring vegetation fires where smoldering and oxygen-deficient combustion processes are present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112206
JournalCombustion and Flame
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Combustion Institute


  • Chemical kinetic modeling
  • Isoprene pyrolysis
  • Rate constants
  • Reaction pathway analysis
  • Single-pulse shock tube, jet-stirred reactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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