Reduction of CO functional groups through H addition reactions: a comparative study between H2CO + H, CH3CH2CHO + H and CH3OCHO + H under interstellar conditions
H-addition reactions on the icy interstellar grains may play an important role in the formation of complex organic molecules. In the present work we propose a comparative study of H2CO + H, CH3CH2CHO + H and CH3OCHO + H solid state reactions at 10 K under interstellar conditions in order to characterize the main reaction pathways involved in the hydrogenation of a CHO functional group. We show that the most probable mechanism for the formation of alcohols under non-energetic conditions through the saturation of the CHO group corresponds to the attachment of the H atom to the CH group with noticeable variations of the energy barriers for each studied reaction. These energy barriers have been calculated to be 8.3, 14.6 and 32.7 kJ mol−1 for H2CO + H, CH3CH2CHO + H and CH3OCHO + H, respectively. The coupling of the experimental and theoretical analysis proves that while the simplest aldehyde, formaldehyde, is easily reduced to methanol, methylformate and propanal behave differently under H-bombardments but they cannot be a source of alcohol formation through H-addition reactions. Consequently, for the formation of alcohols larger than CH3OH, other chemical pathways should be taken into account, probably energetic processing such as the photolysis of interstellar ice analogues containing C-, H- and O-bearing compounds or the coupling of the H-addition reaction and photon-irradiation on species with a CHO functional group.