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Thermal formation of hydroxynitriles, precursors of hydroxyacids in astrophysical ice analogs: acetone ((CH3)2C=O) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) reactivity

Abstract : Reactivity in astrophysical environments is still poorly understood. In this contribution, we investigate the thermal reactivity of interstellar ice analogs containing acetone ((CH3)2CO), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and water (H2O) by means of infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry techniques, complemented by quantum chemical calculations. We show that no reaction occurs in H2O:HCN:(CH3)2CO ices. Nevertheless, HCN does indeed react with acetone once activated by NH3 into CN- to form 2-hydroxy-2-methylpropanenitrile (HO-C(CH3)2-CN), with a calculated activation energy associated with the rate determining step of about 51 kJ mol-1. This reaction inhibits the formation of 2-aminopropan-2-ol (HO-C(CH3)2-NH2) from acetone and NH3, even in the presence of water, which is the first step of the Strecker synthesis to form 2-aminoisobutyric acid (NH2C(CH3)2COOH). However, HO-C(CH3)2-CN formation could be part of an alternative chemical pathway leading to 2-hydroxy-2-methyl-propanoic acid (HOC(CH3)2COOH), which could explain the presence of hydroxy acids in some meteorites.
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Aurelien Fresneau, Grégoire Danger, Albert Rimola, Fabrice Duvernay, Patrice Theulé, et al.. Thermal formation of hydroxynitriles, precursors of hydroxyacids in astrophysical ice analogs: acetone ((CH3)2C=O) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) reactivity . Molecular Astrophysics, Elsevier, 2015, 1, pp.1-12. ⟨10.1016/j.molap.2015.10.001⟩. ⟨hal-01452281⟩

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