The Unimolecular Reactions of CF3CHF2 Studied by Chemical Activation: Assignment of Rate Constants and Threshold Energies to the 1,2‑H Atom Transfer, 1,1-HF and 1,2-HF Elimination Reactions, and the Dependence of Threshold Energies on the Number of F‑Atom Substituents in the Fluoroethane Molecules

The recombination of CF3 and CHF2 radicals in a room-temperature bath gas was used to prepare vibrationally excited CF3CHF2* molecules with 101 kcal mol–1 of vibrational energy. The subsequent 1,2-H atom transfer and 1,1-HF and 1,2-HF elimination reactions were observed as a function of bath gas pressure by following the CHF3, CF3(F)­C: and C2F4 product concentrations by gas chromatography using a mass spectrometer as the detector. The singlet CF3(F)­C: concentration was measured by trapping the carbene with trans-2-butene. The experimental rate constants are 3.6 × 104, 4.7 × 104, and 1.1 × 104 s–1 for the 1,2-H atom transfer and 1,1-HF and 1,2-HF elimination reactions, respectively. These experimental rate constants were matched to statistical RRKM calculated rate constants to assign threshold energies (E0) of 88 ± 2, 88 ± 2, and 87 ± 2 kcal mol–1 to the three reactions. Pentafluoroethane is the only fluoroethane that has a competitive H atom transfer decomposition reaction, and it is the only example with 1,1-HF elimination being more important than 1,2-HF elimination. The trend of increasing threshold energies for both 1,1-HF and 1,2-HF processes with the number of F atoms in the fluoroethane molecule is summarized and investigated with electronic-structure calculations. Examination of the intrinsic reaction coordinate associated with the 1,1-HF elimination reaction found an adduct between CF3(F)­C: and HF in the exit channel with a dissociation energy of ∼5 kcal mol–1. Hydrogen-bonded complexes between HF and the H atom migration transition state of CH3(F)­C: and the F atom migration transition state of CF3(F)­C: also were found by the calculations. The role that these carbene–HF complexes could play in 1,1-HF elimination reactions is discussed.