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Factors Controlling Regioselectivity in the Reduction of Polynitroaromatics in Aqueous Solution

Barrows, S. E.; Cramer, C. J.; Truhlar, D. G.; Elovitz, M. S.; Weber, E. J.
Environ. Sci. Technol. 1996, 30, 3028.

Regioselectivities in the bisulfide reduction of ten polynitroaromatics to monoamine products have been determined; four of these compounds have also been reduced by anoxic sediments in heterogeneous aqueous solution, and the same regioselectivities are observed. This suggests that reduction takes place in the liquid phase and is mediated by an organic electron shuttle reagent. Analyses of Austin Model 1-Solvation Model 2 electrostatic potential surfaces for the radical anions of these polynitroaromatic compounds provides a reliable method of predicting the regioselectivity of their reduction. In particular, at their minimum-energy geometries in aqueous solution, it is the more negative nitro group that is selectively reduced. This is consistent with a mechanism where regioselection occurs upon kinetic protonation at the site of maximum negative charge in the radical anion formed after the first electron transfer to the neutral PNA . Inclusion of solvation effects is critical in order to confidently predict the electrostatic preference for the reduction of one nitro group over the others. Sterically uncongested nitroaromatic radical anions have gas-phase geometries in which the nitro group is coplanar with the aromatic ring. However, ortho substituents and solvation effects both oppose this tendency, and can lead to nitro groups that are rotated out of the ring plane and pyramidalized.

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