Mechanistic characterization of zeolite-catalyzed aromatic electrophilic substitution at realistic operating conditions
Zeolite-catalyzed benzene ethylation is an important industrial reaction, as it is the first step in the production of styrene for polymer manufacturing. Furthermore, it is a prototypical example of aromatic electrophilic substitution, a key reaction in the synthesis of many bulk and fine chemicals. Despite extensive research, the reaction mechanism and the nature of elusive intermediates at realistic operating conditions is not properly understood. More in detail, the existence of the elusive arenium ion (better known as Wheland complex) formed upon electrophilic attack on the aromatic ring is still a matter of debate. Temperature effects and the presence of protic guest molecules such as water are expected to impact the reaction mechanism and lifetime of the reaction intermediates. Herein, we used enhanced sampling ab initio molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the complete mechanism of benzene ethylation with ethene and ethanol in the H-ZSM-5 zeolite. We show that both the stepwise and concerted mechanisms are active at reaction conditions and that the Wheland intermediate spontaneously appears as a shallow minimum in the free energy surface after the electrophilic attack on the benzene ring. Addition of water enhances the protonation kinetics by about 1 order of magnitude at coverages of one water molecule per Brønsted acidic site. In the fully solvated regime, an overstabilization of the BAS as hydronium ion occurs and the rate enhancement disappears. The obtained results give critical atomistic insights in the role of water to selectively tune the kinetics of protonation reactions in zeolites.
Crystals springing into action: metal-organic framework CUK-1 as a pressure-driven molecular spring dagger
Mercury porosimetry and in situ high pressure single crystal X-ray diffraction revealed the wine-rack CUK-1 MOF as a unique crystalline material capable of a fully reversible mechanical pressure-triggered structural contraction. The near-absence of hysteresis upon cycling exhibited by this robust MOF, akin to an ideal molecular spring, is associated with a constant work energy storage capacity of 40 J/gr. Molecular simulations were further deployed to uncover the free-energy landscape behind this unprecedented pressure-responsive phenomenon in the area of compliant hybrid porous materials. This discovery is of utmost importance from the perspective of instant energy storage and delivery.
Mechanistic insight into the framework methylation ofH-ZSM-5 for varying methanol loading and Si/Al ratiousing first principles molecular dynamics simulations
Cation−π Interactions Accelerate the Living Cationic Ring-Opening Polymerization of Unsaturated 2-Alkyl-2-oxazolines
Cation–dipole interactions were previously shown to have a rate-enhancing effect on the cationic ring-opening polymerization (CROP) of 2-oxazolines bearing a side-chain ester functionality. In line with this, a similar rate enhancement—via intermolecular cation−π interactions—was anticipated to occur when π-bonds are introduced into the 2-oxazoline side-chains. Moreover, the incorporation of π-bonds allows for facile postfunctionalization of the resulting poly(2-oxazoline)s with double and triple bonds in the side-chains via various click reactions. Herein, a combined molecular modeling and experimental approach was used to study the CROP reaction rates of 2-oxazolines with side-chains having varying degrees of unsaturation and side-chain length. The presence of cation−π interactions and the influence of the degree of unsaturation were initially confirmed by means of regular molecular dynamics simulations on pentameric systems. Furthermore, a combination of enhanced molecular dynamics simulations, static calculations, and a thorough analysis of the noncovalent interactions was performed to unravel to what extent cation−π interactions alter the reaction kinetics. Additionally, the observed trends were confirmed also in the presence of acetonitrile as solvent, in which experimentally the polymerization is performed. Most intriguingly, we found only a limited effect on the intrinsic reaction kinetics of the CROP and a preorganization effect in the reactive complex region. The latter effect was established by the unsaturated side-chains and the cationic center through a complex interplay between cation−π, π–π, π–induced dipole, and cation–dipole interactions. These findings led us to propose a two-step mechanism comprised of an equilibration step and a CROP reaction step. The influence of the degree of unsaturation, through a preorganization effect, on the equilibration step was determined with the following trend for the polymerization rates: n-ButylOx < ButenOx < ButynOx ≥ PentynOx. The trend was experimentally confirmed by determining the polymerization rate constants.
Ab initio enhanced sampling kinetic study on MTO ethene methylation reaction
The methylation reaction of ethene with methanol over the Brønsted acidic ZSM-5 catalyst is one of theprototype reactions within zeolite catalysis for which experimental kinetic data is available. It is one ofthe premier reactions within the methanol-to-olefins process and has been the subject of extensive the-oretical testing to predict the reaction rates. Herein, we apply, for the first time, first principle moleculardynamics methods to determine the intrinsic reaction kinetics taking into account the full configurationalentropy. As chemical reactions are rare events, enhanced sampling methods are necessary to obtain suf-ficient sampling of the configurational space at the activated region. A plethora of methods is availablewhich depend on specific choices like the selection of collective variables along which the dynamics isenhanced. Herein, a thorough first principle molecular dynamics study is presented to determine thereaction kinetics via various enhanced MD techniques on an exemplary reaction within zeolite catalysisfor which reference theoretical and experimental data are available.
Unraveling the thermodynamic conditions for negative gas adsorption in soft porous crystals
Soft porous crystals (SPCs) are widely known for their intriguing properties and various counterintuitive phenomena such as negative linear compression, negative thermal expansion and negative gas adsorption (NGA). An intriguing case is the adsorption of methane in DUT-49 for which experimentally a drop in the amount of adsorbed particles was observed under increasing vapor pressure. It is yet unknown which specific systems can exhibit NGA under which thermodynamic conditions. Herein, a semi-analytical thermodynamic model is applied to determine the conditions required for NGA, including their sensitivity towards various system-specific parameters, and investigate the correlation with pressure-induced breathing. As such, it is found that certain non-breathing materials may exhibit breathing with NGA under application of a fixed mechanical pressure. Such meticulous control of multiple triggers for NGA can open the way to new applications such as tunable gas detection and pressure amplification.
Thermodynamic modeling of the selective adsorption of carbon dioxide over methane in the mechanically constrained breathing MIL-53(Cr)
The coadsorption of CO2/CH4 in the breathing MIL-53(Cr) under the application of an additional mechanical pressure is investigated through the use of an extended thermodynamic mean-field model. The focus is on the breathing behavior, negative gas adsorption (NGA), and selective adsorption of CO2 as well as to what degree the application of mechanical pressure influences this behavior. To this end, phase diagrams, coadsorption isotherms are constructed and the CO 2 /CH 4 selectivity is computed in terms of the vapor pressure of methane and carbon dioxide as well as the mechanical pressure. As a result, it was found that NGA can be induced by coadsorption of CO2 /CH4 gas mixtures with certain molar compositions. Finally, a specific adsorption/desorption cycle, which includes the application of an additional mechanical pressure, is proposed to allow for an increased CO2/CH4 selectivity as well as for an expected less energy demanding CO2 desorption step.
Thermal Engineering of Metal-Organic Frameworks for Adsorption Applications: A Molecular Simulations Perspective
Thermal engineering of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for adsorption-based applications is very topical in view of their industrial potential, especially since heat management and thermal stability have been identified as important obstacles. Hence, a fundamental understanding of the structural and chemical features underpinning their intrinsic thermal properties is highly sought-after. Herein, we investigate the nanoscale behavior of a diverse set of frameworks using molecular simulation techniques and critically compare properties such as thermal conductivity, heat capacity and thermal expansion with other material classes. Furthermore, we propose a hypothetical thermodynamic cycle to estimate the temperature rise associated with adsorption for the most important greenhouse and energy-related gases (CO2 and CH4). This macroscopic response on the heat of adsorption connects the intrinsic thermal properties with the adsorption properties, and allows us to evaluate their importance.
Pillared-layered metal-organic frameworks for mechanical energy storage applications
Herein we explore the unique potential of pillared-layered metal–organic frameworks of the DMOF-1 family for mechanical energy storage applications. In this work, we theoretically predict for the guest-free DMOF-1 a new contracted phase by exerting an external mechanical pressure of more than 200 MPa with respect to the stable phase at atmospheric pressure. The breathing transition is accompanied by a very large volume contraction of about 40%. The high transition pressures and associated volume changes make these materials highly promising with an outstanding mechanical energy work. Furthermore, we show that changing the nature of the metal allows to tune the behavior under mechanical pressure. The various phases were revealed by a combination of periodic density-functional theory calculations, force field molecular dynamics simulations and mercury intrusion experiments for DMOF-1(Zn) and DMOF-1(Cu). The combined experimental and theoretical approach allowed to discover the potential of these materials for new technological developments.