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Reductive Dechlorination of 1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane

Arnold, W.; Winget, P.; Cramer, C. J.
Env. Sci. Technol. 2002, 36, 3536.

Products of the transformation of organic pollutants in the environment are often predicted based on the structure of the parent compounds. In some cases, however, multiple products may result from the same reaction pathway. In this study, the reduction of 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane (1,1,2,2-TeCA) is investigated both experimentally and computationally. Experimental results and data available in the literature reveal that the ratio of Z-1,2-dichloroethylene (Z-DCE) to E-1,2-dichloroethylene (E-DCE) produced from the reductive b-elimination of 1,1,2,2-TeCA is approximately 2:1, and this ratio is independent of the reductant used. The exception is iron metal, which results in a ratio of 4.5:1. Computational results reveal that the 1,2,2-trichloroethyl radicals (1,1,2-TCAo) formed upon the transfer of the first electron are nearly isoenergetic and are in rapid equilibrium. Thus, the conformer population of the 1,1,2,2-TeCA does not dictate the product distribution. Using Marcus theory, it is demonstrated that the Z:E ratio of 2:1 reflects the relative rates of the two possible electron transfer steps to the two radical conformers. Further analysis of the thermochemistry of the reaction reveals that this ratio of rate constants should be essentially independent of the thermodynamic driving force, which is consistent with the experimental results. The reduction of the 1,1,2,2-TeCA is an overall two-electron process, but the fact that the radicals equilibrate at a rate more rapid than the transfer of the second electron suggests that reductants employed act as decoupled single electron transfer agents.

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