Thermal Decomposition of Furan Generates Propargyl Radicals

An Gayle Vasiliou, Mark R. Nimlos, John W. Daily, G. Barney Ellison

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89 Scopus Citations


The thermal decomposition of furan has been studied by a 1 mm × 2 cm tubular silicon carbide reactor, C 4H 4O + Δ → products. Unlike previous studies, these experiments are able to identify the initial furan decomposition products. Furan is entrained in either He or Ar carrier gas and is passed through a heated (1600 K) SiC tubular reactor. Furan decomposes during transit through the tubular reactor (approximately 65 μs) and exits to a vacuum chamber. Within one nozzle diameter of leaving the nozzle, the gases cool to less than 50 K, and all reactions cease. The resultant molecular beam is interrogated by photoionization mass spectroscopy as well as infrared spectroscopy. Earlier G2(MP2) electronic structure calculations predicted that furan will thermally decompose to acetylene, ketene, carbon monoxide, and propyne at lower temperatures. At higher temperatures, these calculations forecast that propargyl radical could result. We observe all of these species (see Scheme 1). As the pressure in the tubular reactor is raised, the photoionization mass spectra show clear evidence for the formation of aromatic hydrocarbons.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8540-8547
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number30
StatePublished - 2009

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-510-46463


  • basic science
  • bioenergy
  • chemical and biosciences


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