Activation of Methane and Ethane and Their Selective Oxidation to the Alcohols in Protic Media

Ayusman Sen, Mark A. Benvenuto, Minren Lin, Alan C. Hutson, Naomi Basickes

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The selective oxidation of methane and ethane to the alcohols in solvents ranging from strong acids to neutral aqueous medium has been studied. In 98% sulfuric acid, methane is oxidized to CH3OSO3H by a variety of 1e- and 2e- oxidants, such as S2O82-, Ce(IV), Pd(II), and Hg(II). In the case of ethane, the observed products are CH3OSO3H and HO3SCH2CH2OSO3H. These oxidations appear to proceed through a series of electron-transfer steps involving the intermediacy of radicals and carbocations. We have determined the ratio of rate constants for methane versus methanol oxidation by the Pt(II) ion in water and an average value of 0.17(2) was obtained. The similarity in rate constants for methane and methanol oxidations under such mild conditions is remarkable. Moving to substrates with C-H bonds somewhat weaker than that in methane results in actual reversalof commonly observed selectivity. As an example, we have observed the exclusiveoxidation of the methyl group in ethanol resulting in the formation of 1, 2-ethanediol as the predominant product. In addition, when ethane was included as a substrate, the relative rate of C-H bond activation by the Pt(II) ion decreasedin the order H-CH2CH3 > H-CH2CH2OH > H-CH(OH)CH3. Another example of unusual selectivity was the observation of 1, 3-propanediol as the predominant product in the oxidation of 1-propanol by the Pt(II) ion in water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)998-1003
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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