Unexpected, Latent Radical Reaction of Methane Propagated by Trifluoromethyl Radicals

Thorough mechanistic studies and DFT calculations revealed a background radical pathway latent in metal-catalyzed oxidation reactions of methane at low temperatures. Use of hydrogen peroxide with TFAA generated a trifluoromethyl radical (•CF3), which in turn reacted with methane gas to selectively yield acetic acid. It was found that the methyl carbon of the product was derived from methane, while the carbonyl carbon was derived from TFAA. Computational studies also support these findings, revealing the reaction cycle to be energetically favorable.