The Co(II)/Co(III)-induced decomposition of hydroperoxides is an important reaction in many industrial processes and is referred to as deperoxidation. In the first step of the so-called Haber-Weiss cycle, alkoxyl radicals and Co(III)-OH species are generated upon the reaction of the Co(II) ion with ROOH. The catalytic cycle is closed upon the regeneration of the Co(II) ion through the reaction of the Co(III)-OH species with a second ROOH molecule, thus producing one equivalent of the peroxyl radicals. Herein, the deperoxidation of tert-butylhydroperoxide by dissolved cobalt(II) acetylacetonate is studied by using UV/Vis spectroscopy in situ with a noninteracting solvent, namely, cyclohexane. Kinetic information extracted from experiments, together with quantum-chemical calculations, led to new mechanistic hypotheses. Even under anaerobic conditions, the Haber-Weiss cycle initiates a radical-chain destruction of ROOH propagated by both alkoxyl and peroxyl radicals. This chain mechanism rationalizes the high deperoxidation rates, which are directly proportional to the cobalt concentration up to approximately 75 μM at 333 K. However, at higher cobalt concentrations, a remarkable decrease of the rate is observed. The hypothesis put forward herein is that this remarkable autoinhibition effect could be explained by the hitherto overlooked chain termination of two Co(III)--OH species. The direct competition between the first-order Haber-Weiss initiation and the second-order termination can indeed explain this peculiar kinetic behavior of this homogeneous deperoxidation system.
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