A Reinvestigation of the Deceptively Simple Reaction of Toluene with ●OH, and the Fate of the Benzyl Radical. I. a Combined Thermodynamic and Kinetic Study on the Competition Between ●OH Addition and Hydrogen Abstraction Reactions.

17 June 2019, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


This work reports density functional and composite model chemistry calculations performed on the reactions of toluene with the hydroxyl radical. Both experimentally observed H-abstraction from the methyl group and possible additions to the phenyl ring were investigated. Reaction enthalpies and heights of the barriers suggest that H-abstraction is more favorable than ●OH addition to the ring. The calculated reaction rates at room temperature and the radical-intermediate product fractions support this view. This is somehow contradictory with the fact that, under most experimental conditions, cresols are observed in a larger concentration than benzaldehyde. Since the accepted mechanism for benzaldehyde formation involves H-abstraction, a contradiction arises that begs for an explanation. In this first part of our work we give the evidences that support the preference of hydrogen abstraction over ●OH addition and suggest an alternative mechanism which shows that cresols can actually arise also from the former reaction and not only from the latter.


Hydroxyl radical
atmospheric chemistry
density functional
monoaromatic oxidation


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