Accurate bond energies of biodiesel methyl esters from multireference averaged coupled-pair functional calculations

Victor B. Oyeyemi, John A. Keith, Emily A. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Accurate bond dissociation energies (BDEs) are important for characterizing combustion chemistry, particularly the initial stages of pyrolysis. Here we contribute to evaluating the thermochemistry of biodiesel methyl ester molecules using ab initio BDEs derived from a multireference averaged coupled-pair functional (MRACPF2)-based scheme. Having previously validated this approach for hydrocarbons and a variety of oxygenates, herein we provide further validation for bonds within carboxylic acids and methyl esters, finding our scheme predicts BDEs within chemical accuracy (i.e., within 1 kcal/mol) for these molecules. Insights into BDE trends with ester size are then analyzed for methyl formate through methyl crotonate. We find that the carbonyl group in the ester moiety has only a local effect on BDEs. C=C double bonds in ester alkyl chains are found to increase the strengths of bonds adjacent to the double bond. An important exception are bonds beta to C=C or C=O bonds, which produce allylic-like radicals upon dissociation. The observed trends arise from different degrees of geometric relaxation and resonance stabilization in the radicals produced. We also compute BDEs in various small alkanes and alkenes as models for the long hydrocarbon chain of actual biodiesel methyl esters. We again show that allylic bonds in the alkenes are much weaker than those in the small methyl esters, indicating that hydrogen abstractions are more likely at the allylic site and even more likely at bis-allylic sites of alkyl chains due to more electrons involved in π-resonance in the latter. Lastly, we use the BDEs in small surrogates to estimate heretofore unknown BDEs in large methyl esters of biodiesel fuels. (Chemical Equation Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7392-7403
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 4 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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