Ab initio and microcalorimetric investigations of alkene adsorption on phosphotungstic acid

Kimberly A. Campbell, Michael J. Janik, Robert J. Davis, Matthew Neurock

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The adsorption of ethene, propene, 1-butene, trans-2-butene, and isobutene on phosphotungstic acid has been characterized by density functional theory (DFT) calculations and microcalorimetric experiments. The DFT-calculated chemisorption energies to form the corresponding alkoxides for ethene, propene, 1-butene, trans-2-butene, and isobutene were -86.8, -90.3, -102.6, -79.9, and -91.4 kJ mol -1, respectively (for their most-favorable binding modes). The relative chemisorption energies to form the alkoxides are dictated by the strength of interaction of the acidic proton with the carbon atom of the double bond that becomes protonated. The activation barrier for chemisorption was greatest for alkenes with primary (1°) carbenium-like transition states followed by secondary (2°) and tertiary (3°) transition states. The adsorption enthalpy established from microcalorimetric experiments with propene and isobutene was approximately -100 kJ mol -1, which is close to the DFT-calculated values. Chemisorption of ethene on phosphotungstic acid during microcalorimetric experiments was minimal, presumably because of the large activation barrier associated with a 1° carbenium-like transition state. The results from this study are compared with those in the literature for the adsorption of alkenes on zeolites, which have a similar adsorption mechanism. Our results suggest that alkene adsorption is stronger on phosphotungstic acid than on zeolites, as supported by the more exothermic chemisorption energies. Additionally, activation barriers for alkene adsorption are lower over phosphotungstic acid than over zeolites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4738-4745
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 10 2005


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry

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