Development of an Elementary Reaction-Based Kinetic Model to Predict the Aqueous-Phase Fate of Organic Compounds Induced by Reactive Free Radicals

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Conspectus Aqueous-phase free radicals such as reactive oxygen, halogen, and nitrogen species play important roles in the fate of organic compounds in the aqueous-phase advanced water treatment processes and natural aquatic environments under sunlight irradiation. Predicting the fate of organic compounds in aqueous-phase advanced water treatment processes and natural aquatic environments necessitates understanding the kinetics and reaction mechanisms of initial reactions of free radicals with structurally diverse organic compounds and other reactions. Researchers developed conventional predictive models based on experimentally measured transformation products and determined reaction rate constants by fitting with the time-dependent concentration profiles of species due to difficulties in their measurements of unstable intermediates. However, the empirical treatment of lumped reaction mechanisms had a model prediction limitation with respect to the specific parent compound’s fate. We use ab initio and density functional theory quantum chemical computations, numerical solutions of ordinary differential equations, and validation of the outcomes of the model with experiments. Sensitivity analysis of reaction rate constants and concentration profiles enables us to identify an important elementary reaction in formating the transformation product. Such predictive elementary reaction-based kinetics models can be used to screen organic compounds in water and predict their potentially toxic transformation products for a specific experimental investigation. Over the past decade, we determined linear free energy relationships (LFERs) that bridge the kinetic and thermochemical properties of reactive oxygen species such as hydroxyl radicals (HO•), peroxyl radicals (ROO•), and singlet oxygen (1O2); reactive halogen species such as chlorine radicals (Cl•) and bromine radicals (Br•); reactive nitrogen species (NO2•); and carbonate radicals (CO3•-). We used literature-reported experimental rate constants as kinetic information. We considered the theoretically calculated aqueous-phase free energy of activation or reaction to be a kinetic or a thermochemical property, and obtained via validated ab initio or density functional theory-based quantum chemical computations using explicit and implicit solvation models. We determined rate-determining reaction mechanisms involved in reactions by observing robust LFERs. The general accuracy of LFERs to predict aqueous-phase rate constants was within a difference of a factor of 2-5 from experimental values. We developed elementary reaction-based kinetic models and predicted the fate of acetone induced by HO• in an advanced water treatment process and methionine by photochemically produced reactive intermediates in sunlit fresh waters. We provided mechanistic insight into peroxyl radical reaction mechanisms and critical roles in the degradation of acetone and the formation of transformation products. We highlighted different roles of triplet excited states of two surrogate CDOMs, 1O2, and HO•, in methionine degradation. Predicted transformation products were compared to those obtained via benchtop experiments to validate our elementary reaction-based kinetic models. Predicting the reactivities of reactive halogen and nitrogen species implicates our understanding of the formation of potentially toxic halogen- and nitrogen-containing transformation products during water treatment processes and in natural aquatic environments.

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Accounts of Chemical Research