Radical and non-radical mechanisms for alkane oxidations by hydrogen peroxide-trifluoroacetic acid

D. M. Camaioni, J. T. Bays, W. J. Shaw, John Linehan, J. C. Birnbaum

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20 Citations (Scopus)


The oxidation of cyclohexane by the H2O2-trifluoroacetic acid system is revisited. Consistent with a previous report (Deno, N.; Messer, L. A. Chem. Comm. 1976, 1051), cyclohexanol forms initially but then esterifies to cyclohexyl trifluoroacetate. Small amounts of trans-1,2-cyclohexadiyl bis-(trifluoroacetate) also form. Although these products form irrespective of the presence or absence of O2, dual mechanisms are shown to operate. In the absence of O2, the dominant mechanism is a radical chain reaction that is propagated by CF3· abstracting H from C6H12 and SH2 displacement of C6H11· on CF3CO2OH. The intermediacy of C6H11· and CF3· is inferred from production of CHF3 and CO2 along with cyclohexyl trifluoroacetate, or CDF3 when cyclohexane-d12 is used. In the presence of O2, fluoroform and CO2 are suppressed, the reaction rate slows, and the rate law approaches second order (first order in peracid and in C6H12). Trapping of cyclohexyl radicals by quinoxaline is inefficient except at elevated (∼75°C) temperatures. Fluoroform and CO2, telltale evidence for the chain pathway, were not produced when quinoxaline was present in room temperature reactions. These observations suggest that a parallel, nonfree radical, oxenoid insertion mechanism dominates when O2 is present. A pathway is discussed in which a biradicaloid-zwiterionic transition state is attained by hydrogen transfer from alkane to peroxide oxygen with synchronous O-O bond scission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-795
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Organic Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 9 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry

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