Computational study on the kinetics and mechanisms for the unimolecular decomposition of formic and oxalic acids

Jee Gong Chang*, Hsin Tsung Chen, Shucheng Xu, Ming-Chang Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The kinetics and mechanisms for the unimolecular decomposition reactions of formic acid and oxalic acid have been studied computationally by the high-level G2M(CC1) method and microcanonical RRKM theory. There are two reaction pathways in the decomposition of formic acid: The dehydration process starting from the Z conformer is found to be the dominant, whereas the decarboxylation reaction starting from the E conformer is less competitive. The predicted rate constants for the dehydration and decarboxylation reactions are in good agreement with the experimental data. The calculated CO/CO2 ratio, 13.6-13.9 between 1300 and 2000 K, is in close agreement with the ratio of 10 measured experimentally by Hsu et al. (In The 19th International Symposium on Combustion; The Combustion Institute: Pittsburgh, PA, 1983; p 89). For oxalic acid, its isomer with two intramolecular hydrogen bonds is the most stable structure, similar to earlier reports. Two primary decomposition channels of oxalic acid producing CO2 + HOCOH with barriers of 33-36 kcal/mol and CO 2 + CO + H2O with a barrier of 39 kcal/mol were found. At high temperatures, the latter process becomes more competitive. The rate constant predicted for the formation of CO2 and HOCOH (the precursor of HCOOH) agrees well with available experimental data. The mechanism for the isomerization of HOCOH to HCOOH is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6789-6797
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number29
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2007


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