Theoretical Kinetic Study of the Unimolecular and H-Assisted Keto-Enol Tautomerism Propen-2-ol ↔Acetone. Pressure Effects and Implications in the Pyrolysis and Oxidation of tert- And 2-Butanol

  • Edwing Grajales Gonzalez

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The need for renewable and cleaner sources of energy has made biofuels an interesting alternative to fossil fuels, especially in the case of butanol isomers, with their favorable blend properties and low hygroscopicity. Although C4 alcohols are prospective fuels, some key reactions governing their pyrolysis and combustion have not been adequately studied, leading to incomplete kinetic models. Butanol reactions kinetics is poorly understood. Specifically, the unimolecular and H-assisted tautomerism of propen-2-ol to acetone, which are included in butanol combustion kinetic models, are assigned rate parameters based on the analogous unimolecular tautomerism vinyl alcohol ↔ acetaldehyde and H addition to the double bound of iso-butene, respectively. In an attempt to update current kinetic models for tert- and 2-butanol, a theoretical kinetic study of the unimolecular and H-assisted tautomerism, i-C3H5OH⟺CH3COCH3 and i-C3H5OH+Ḣ⟺CH3COCH3+Ḣ, was carried out by means of CCSD(T,FULL)/aug-cc-pVTZ//CCSD(T)/6-31+G(d,p) and CCSD(T)/aug-cc-pVTZ//M062X/cc-pVTZ ab initio calculations, respectively. For H-assisted tautomerism, the reaction takes place in two consecutive steps: i-C3H5OH+Ḣ⟺CH3ĊOHCH3 and CH3ĊOHCH3⟺CH3COCH3+Ḣ. Multistructural torsional anharmonicity and variational transition state theory were considered in a wide temperature and pressure range (200 K – 3000 K, 0.1 kPa – 108 kPa). It was observed that decreasing pressure leads to a decrease in rate constants, describing the expected falloff behavior for both isomerizations. Results for unimolecular tautomerism differ from vinyl alcohol ↔ acetaldehyde analogue reactions, which shows lower rate constant values. Tunneling turned out to be important, especially at low temperatures. Accordingly, pyrolysis simulations in a batch reactor for tert- and 2-butanol with computed unimolecular rate constants showed important differences in comparison with previous results, such as larger acetone yield and quicker propen-2-ol consumption. In the combustion and pyrolysis batch reactor simulations, using all the rate constants computed in this work, H-assisted reactions are limited because H radicals become abundant once the propen-2-ol has been consumed by other reactions, such as the non-catalyzed tautomerism i-C3H5OH⟺CH3COCH3, which becomes one of the main source of acetone. The intermediate radical (CH3ĊOHCH3) is formed exclusively from tert-butanol, with its concentration in 2-butanol oxidation being smaller because the secondary alcohol is unable to produce the radical directly. In all cases, the intermediate is converted effectively to acetone.
Date of AwardMay 2018
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Science and Engineering
SupervisorMani Sarathy (Supervisor)


  • Proper-2-ol
  • Tautomerism
  • Unimolecular
  • computational chemistry
  • Rate constant
  • Batch simulation

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