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J Phys Chem A. 2015 May 14;119(19):4298-308. doi: 10.1021/jp503759f. Epub 2014 Jul 24.

Experimental and theoretical understanding of the gas phase oxidation of atmospheric amides with OH radicals: kinetics, products, and mechanisms.

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†Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto, 80 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3H6, Canada.
‡Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Atmospheric amides have primary and secondary sources and are present in ambient air at low pptv levels. To better assess the fate of amides in the atmosphere, the room temperature (298 ± 3 K) rate coefficients of five different amides with OH radicals were determined in a 1 m(3) smog chamber using online proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS). Formamide, the simplest amide, has a rate coefficient of (4.44 ± 0.46) × 10(-12) cm(3) molec(-1) s(-1) against OH, translating to an atmospheric lifetime of ∼1 day. N-methylformamide, N-methylacetamide and propanamide, alkyl versions of formamide, have rate coefficients of (10.1 ± 0.6) × 10(-12), (5.42 ± 0.19) × 10(-12), and (1.78 ± 0.43) × 10(-12) cm(3) molec(-1) s(-1), respectively. Acetamide was also investigated, but due to its slow oxidation kinetics, we report a range of (0.4-1.1) × 10(-12) cm(3) molec(-1) s(-1) for its rate coefficient with OH radicals. Oxidation products were monitored and quantified and their time traces were fitted using a simple kinetic box model. To further probe the mechanism, ab initio calculations are used to identify the initial radical products of the amide reactions with OH. Our results indicate that N-H abstractions are negligible in all cases, in contrast to what is predicted by structure-activity relationships. Instead, the reactions proceed via C-H abstraction from alkyl groups and from formyl C(O)-H bonds when available. The latter process leads to radicals that can readily react with O2 to form isocyanates, explaining the detection of toxic compounds such as isocyanic acid (HNCO) and methyl isocyanate (CH3NCO). These contaminants of significant interest are primary oxidation products in the photochemical oxidation of formamide and N-methylformamide, respectively.

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