Science Inventory

Rates and Yields of Unimolecular Reactions Producing Highly Oxidized Peroxy Radicals in the OH-Induced Autoxidation of α-Pinene, β-Pinene, and Limonene


Piletic, I. AND T. Kleindienst. Rates and Yields of Unimolecular Reactions Producing Highly Oxidized Peroxy Radicals in the OH-Induced Autoxidation of α-Pinene, β-Pinene, and Limonene. JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 126(1):88-100, (2021).


Monoterpenes represent an important source of volatile organic species found in nature and used in chemical products.  They are readily oxidized in the atmosphere and contribute to the atmospheric burden of particulate matter (PM).  Recent studies have indicated that they may autoxidize and produce highly oxygenated non-volatile species quickly.  Limonene in particular has a greater propensity to autoxidize and this study seeks to understand the underlying mechanistic processes and compare them with alpha and beta pinene - two of the most common monoterpenes found in nature.  The newly developed mechanisms may be incorporated in atmospheric models like CMAQ to improve PM, NOx and ozone estimates.  


Recent ambient atmospheric measurements have detected highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOMs) at many sites and are a consequence of autoxidation processes occurring at ambient temperatures. Monoterpenes in particular have a propensity to autoxidize although they exhibit a wide range of HOM yields, which may be due to a variety of reasons including reactions with different oxidants like OH and O3, differing hydrogen (H) atom transfer or peroxy radical cyclization rates, numbers of available reaction pathways, and/or energy loss processes for activated HO-monoterpene or O3-monoterpene adducts. In this work, the autoxidation mechanisms of (+)-α-pinene, (+)-β-pinene, and (+)-limonene following initial OH oxidation and three successive O2 additions are examined using density functional theory (DFT) to understand what accounts for the disparity. Rates of different potential autoxidation pathways initiated by OH addition or abstraction reactions are quantified using transition-state theory (TST) and master equation approaches using the lowest-energy conformers. OH abstraction reactions do not appreciably influence HOM production in the pinenes and limit autoxidation for limonene because the subsequent autoxidation reactions are slow while OH addition reactions are found to be the main route to HOMs for all three monoterpenes. Generally, faster autoxidation rates are computed in later unimolecular reactions that produce RO7 radicals after OH addition (∼10 s–1 or greater) than rates for RO5 peroxy radical production (0.2–7 s–1). Mechanistic pathways that form RO7 peroxy radicals are similar for all three monoterpenes with a particular bicyclo RO7 radical involving a five-membered peroxide ring being favored for all three monoterpenes. The molar yields of RO7 radicals are 4.6% (+10.0/–2.4), 3.8% (+9.1/–2.6), and 7.6% (+13.1/–4.9) for α-pinene, β-pinene, and limonene, respectively, at 298 K and 1 ppb of NO and only significantly decline at NO concentrations exceeding 10 ppb. The higher yield for limonene relative to the pinenes is predominantly a consequence of the initial oxidation step: OH adducts of the bicyclic pinenes have to use the excess energy after OH addition to break one of the rings and make the molecule more flexible for autoxidation although this process is inefficient, while one of the prominent OH adducts for monocyclic limonene does not have to do this and may add O2 immediately before autoxidizing further. These insights may be used to guide a better representation of these processes in atmospheric models because they affect particulate matter (PM), NOx, and ozone concentrations via enhanced production of low-volatility species, less early-generation NOx cycling, and altered organic nitrate production.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 01/13/2022
Record Last Revised: 02/01/2022
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 354031