Thermochemical unification of molecular descriptors to predict radical hydrogen abstraction with low computational cost†
Chemistry describes transformation of matter with reaction equations and corresponding rate constants. However, accurate rate constants are not always easy to get. Here we focus on radical oxidation reactions. Analysis of over 500 published rate constants of hydroxyl radicals led us to hypothesize that a modified linear free-energy relationship (LFER) could be used to predict rate constants speedily, reliably and accurately. LFERs correlate the Gibbs activation-energy with the Gibbs energy of reaction. We calculated the latter as the sum of one-electron transfer and, if appropriate, proton transfer. We parametrized specific transition state effects to orbital delocalizability and the polarity of the reactant. The calculation time for 500 reactions is less than 8 hours on a standard desktop-PC. Rate constants were also calculated for hydrogen and methyl radicals; these controls show that the predictions are applicable to a broader set of oxidizing radicals. An accuracy of 30–40% (standard deviation) with reference to reported experimental values was found suitable for the screening of complex chemical systems for possibly relevant reactions. In particular, potentially relevant reactions can be singled out and scrutinized in detail when prioritizing chemicals for environmental risk assessment.