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    Although hypochlorous acid (HOCl) solution has become a popular electrophilic reagent for industrial uses, the question of which molecule (HOCl or Cl2) undergoes electrophilic addition with olefins remains a controversial issue in some literature and textbooks, and this problem has been largely underexplored in theoretical studies. In this work, we computationally studied the electrophilic addition mechanism of olefins using three experimentally predicted effective electrophilic chlorinating agents, i.e., HOCl, Cl2, and Cl2O molecules. Our results demonstrate that Cl2 and Cl2O are the main electrophilic agents in HOCl solution, whereas the HOCl molecule cannot be the electrophile since the energy barrier when directly adding HOCl molecule to olefins is too high to overcome and the "anti-Markovnikov" regioselectivity for tri-substituted olefin is not consistent with experiments. Notably, the HOCl molecule prefers to form oxonium ion intermediate with a double bond, rather than the generally believed chlorium ion intermediate. This work could benefit mechanistic studies of critical biological and chemical processes with HOCl solution and may be used to update textbooks.


    Ke-Wei Chen, Yun-Dong Wu, Tian-Yu Sun. Critical Computational Evidence Regarding the Long-Standing Controversy over the Main Electrophilic Species in Hypochlorous Acid Solution. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2022 Mar 11;27(6)

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    PMID: 35335205

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