The Products of the Thermal Decomposition of CH(3)CHO

Angayle Vasiliou, Krzysztof M. Piech, Xu Zhang, Mark R. Nimlos, Musahid Ahmed, Amir Golan, Oleg Kostko, David L. Osborn, John W. Daily, John F. Stanton, G. Barney Ellison

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We have used a heated 2 cm × 1 mm SiC microtubular (μtubular) reactor to decompose acetaldehyde: CH3CHO → products. Thermal decomposition is followed at pressures of 75-150 Torr and at temperatures up to 1675 K, conditions that correspond to residence times of roughly 50-100 μs in the μtubular reactor. The acetaldehyde decomposition products are identified by two independent techniques: vacuum ultraviolet photoionization mass spectroscopy (PIMS) and infrared (IR) absorption spectroscopy after isolation in a cryogenic matrix. Besides CH3CHO, we have studied three isotopologues, CH3CDO, CD3CHO, and CD3CDO. We have identified the thermal decomposition products CH3 (PIMS), CO (IR, PIMS), H (PIMS), H2 (PIMS), CH2CO (IR, PIMS), CH 2CHOH (IR, PIMS), H2O (IR, PIMS), and HC≡CH (IR, PIMS). Plausible evidence has been found to support the idea that there are at least three different thermal decomposition pathways for CH3CHO; namely, radical decomposition: CH3CHO + Δ → CH3 + [HCO] → CH3 + H CO; elimination: CH3CHO + Δ → H2=CH2=CO; isomerizationelimination: CH 3CHO + Δ → CH2=CH-OH → HC≡CH + H2O. An interesting result is that both PIMS and IR spectroscopy show compelling evidence for the participation of vinylidene, CH2=C:, as an intermediate in the decomposition of vinyl alcohol: CH2=CH-OH + Δ → [CH2=C:] + H2O → HC≡CH + H 2O.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number014306
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Chemical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Jul 2011

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-52455


  • CH3CHO
  • thermal cracking
  • thermal decomposition


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