Oxygenated hydrocarbons play important roles in combustion science as renewable fuels and additives, but many details about their combustion chemistry remain poorly understood. Although many methods exist for computing accurate electronic energies of molecules at equilibrium geometries, a consistent description of entire combustion reaction potential energy surfaces (PESs) requires multireference correlated wavefunction theories. Here we use bond dissociation energies (BDEs) as a foundational metric to benchmark methods based on multireference configuration interaction (MRCI) for several classes of oxygenated compounds (alcohols, aldehydes, carboxylic acids, and methyl esters). We compare results from multireference singles and doubles configuration interaction to those utilizing a posteriori and a priori size-extensivity corrections, benchmarked against experiment and coupled cluster theory. We demonstrate that size-extensivity corrections are necessary for chemically accurate BDE predictions even in relatively small molecules and furnish examples of unphysical BDE predictions resulting from using too-small orbital active spaces. We also outline the specific challenges in using MRCI methods for carbonyl-containing compounds. The resulting complete basis set extrapolated, size-extensivity-corrected MRCI scheme produces BDEs generally accurate to within 1 kcal/mol, laying the foundation for this scheme's use on larger molecules and for more complex regions of combustion PESs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Physics and Astronomy
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry