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A combined experimental and DFT mechanistic study for the unexpected nitrosolysis of N-hydroxymethyldialkylamines in fuming nitric acid

Zhang, Yu, Zou, Po, Han, Yingbin, Geng, Yongliang, Luo, Jun, Zhou, Baojing
RSC advances 2018 v.8 no.34 pp. 19310-19316
Lewis bases, additives, ammonia, ammonium, ammonium nitrate, ammonium salts, catalysts, density functional theory, hydrogen bonding, moieties, nitric acid, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, redox reactions, water content
The reaction of dimorpholinomethane in fuming HNO₃ was investigated. Interestingly, the major product was identified as N-nitrosomorpholine and a key intermediate N-hydroxymethylmorpholine was detected during the reaction by ¹H-NMR tracking which indicates that the reaction proceeds via an unexpected nitrosolysis process. A plausible nitrosolysis mechanism for N-hydroxymethyldialkylamine in fuming nitric acid involving a HNO₃ redox reaction is proposed, which is supported by both experimental results and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. The effects of ammonium nitrate and water on the nitrosolysis were studied using different ammonium salts as additives and varying water content, respectively. Observations show the key role of ammonium ions and a small amount of water in promoting the nitrosolysis reaction. Furthermore, DFT calculations reveal an essential point that ammonia, merged from the decomposition of the ammonium salts, acts as a Lewis base catalyst, and the hydroxymethyl group of the substrate participates in a hydrogen-bonding interaction with the NH₃ and H₂O molecules.