Experimental and computational studies of trialkylaluminum and alkylaluminum chloride reactions with silica.
ABSTRACT Reactions of trimethylaluminum, triethylaluminum, and diethylaluminum chloride and ethylaluminum dichloride with silica gel have been studied experimentally by infrared spectroscopy and elemental analysis. The silica gel was subjected to different pretreatments to alter surface functionalities prior to reaction. In all cases the extent of surface modification reaction follows the trend unmodified > 600 degrees C pretreated > hexamethyldisilazane (HMDZ) pretreated > 600 degrees C/HMDZ pretreated. All of the aluminum compounds studied completely react non-hydrogen-bonded silanols, while also reacting with hydrogen-bonded silanols and siloxanes. Primarily monomeric surface species result from the surface modification reaction. Ethylaluminum chlorides preferentially react with silanols through cleavage of the Al-C bond rather than the Al-Cl bond. Singly bonded Si(s)-O-AlCl(2) surface species are readily synthesized by reaction of ethylaluminum dichloride with HMDZ-pretreated silica gel. Bridged bonded (Si(s)-O)(2)-AlCl surface species are readily synthesized by reaction of diethylaluminum chloride with HMDZ-pretreated silica gel. Computational ab initio studies of the cluster Si(4)O(6)(OH)(4) as a model to study the reaction of monomeric and dimeric methylaluminum dichloride with a silica silanol are also described. Comparison of the potential energy surface (PES) of monomer and dimer indicates that the energetics favor monomer reaction, consistent with experimental results. The energy cost in the dimer reaction is primarily from cleavage of a bridged Al-Cl bond upon adsorption. This does not occur when the monomer adsorbs. A comparison of the PES for the two reaction pathways resulting from cleavage of either an Al-Cl or Al-C bond indicates that while the former reaction is slightly kinetically favored (E(a) = 23.1 kJ/mol for Al-Cl bond cleavage versus E(a) = 31.1 kJ/mol for Al-C bond cleavage), the latter is strongly thermodynamically favored with an overall free energy difference between the two reaction pathways of 135 kJ/mol favorable to Al-C bond cleavage. These reactions are thermodynamically controlled.