Theoretical Kinetic Study of the Formic Acid Catalyzed Criegee Intermediate Isomerization: Multistructural Anharmonicity and Atmospheric Implications

Manuel Monge Palacios, Matti Petteri Rissanen, Zhandong Wang, Mani Sarathy

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21 Scopus citations


We performed a theoretical study on the double hydrogen shift isomerization reaction of a six carbon atom Criegee intermediate (C6-CI), catalyzed by formic acid (HCOOH), to produce vinylhydroperoxide (VHP), C6-CI+HCOOH→VHP+HCOOH. This Criegee intermediate can serve as a surrogate for larger CIs derived from important volatile organic compounds like monoterpenes, whose reactivity is not well understood and are difficult to handle computationally. The reactant HCOOH exerts a pronounced catalytic effect on the studied reaction by lowering the barrier height, but the kinetic enhancement is hindered by the multistructural anharmonicity. First, the rigid ring-structure adopted by the saddle point to facilitate simultaneous transfer of two atoms does not allow formation of as many conformers as those formed by the reactant C6-CI. And second, the flexible carbon chain of C6-CI facilitates the formation of stabilizing intramolecular C–H···O hydrogen bonds; this stabilizing effect is less pronounced in the saddle point structure due to its tightness and steric effects. Thus, the contribution of the reactant C6-CI conformers to the multistructural partition function is larger than that of the saddle point conformers. The resulting low multistructural anharmonicity factor partially cancels out the catalytic effect of the carboxylic acid, yielding in a moderately large rate coefficient, k(298 K) = 4.9·10-13 cm3 molecule-1 s-1. We show that carboxylic acids may promote the conversion of stabilized Criegee intermediates into vinylhydroperoxides in the atmosphere, which generates OH radicals and leads to secondary organic aerosol, thereby affecting the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere and ultimately the climate.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10806-10814
Number of pages9
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): OSR-2016-CRG5-3022
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under Award No. OSR-2016-CRG5-3022. MPR is grateful for the support from the Academy of Finland (Project number 299574).


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