ic501416u_si_001.pdf (2.47 MB)

Understanding the Hydrolysis Mechanism of Ethyl Acetate Catalyzed by an Aqueous Molybdocene: A Computational Chemistry Investigation

Download (2.47 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 16.02.2015, 00:00 by Elkin Tílvez, Gloria I. Cárdenas-Jirón, María I. Menéndez, Ramón López
A thoroughly mechanistic investigation on the [Cp2Mo­(OH)­(OH2)]+-catalyzed hydrolysis of ethyl acetate has been performed using density functional theory methodology together with continuum and discrete–continuum solvation models. The use of explicit water molecules in the PCM-B3LYP/aug-cc-pVTZ (aug-cc-pVTZ-PP for Mo)//PCM-B3LYP/aug-cc-pVDZ (aug-cc-pVDZ-PP for Mo) computations is crucial to show that the intramolecular hydroxo ligand attack is the preferred mechanism in agreement with experimental suggestions. Besides, the most stable intermediate located along this mechanism is analogous to that experimentally reported for the norbornenyl acetate hydrolysis catalyzed by molybdocenes. The three most relevant steps are the formation and cleavage of the tetrahedral intermediate immediately formed after the hydroxo ligand attack and the acetic acid formation, with the second one being the rate-determining step with a Gibbs energy barrier of 36.7 kcal/mol. Among several functionals checked, B3LYP-D3 and M06 give the best agreement with experiment as the rate-determining Gibbs energy barrier obtained only differs 0.2 and 0.7 kcal/mol, respectively, from that derived from the experimental kinetic constant measured at 296.15 K. In both cases, the acetic acid elimination becomes now the rate-determining step of the overall process as it is 0.4 kcal/mol less stable than the tetrahedral intermediate cleavage. Apart from clarifying the identity of the cyclic intermediate and discarding the tetrahedral intermediate formation as the rate-determining step for the mechanism of the acetyl acetate hydrolysis catalyzed by molybdocenes, the small difference in the Gibbs energy barrier found between the acetic acid formation and the tetrahedral intermediate cleavage also uncovers that the rate-determining step could change when studying the reactivity of carboxylic esters other than ethyl acetate substrate specific toward molybdocenes or other transition metal complexes. Therefore, in general, the information reported here could be of interest in designing new catalysts and understanding the reaction mechanism of these and other metal-catalyzed hydrolysis reactions.