Four seemingly simple transformations related to the chemistry of methane will be addressed from mechanistic and conceptual points of view: 1) metal-mediated dehydrogenation to form metal carbene complexes, 2) the hydrogen-atom abstraction step in the oxidative dimerization of methane, 3) the mechanisms of the CH4→CH3OH conversion, and 4) the initial bond scission (CH vs. OH) as well as the rate-limiting step in the selective CH3OH→CH2O oxidation. State-of-the-art gas-phase experiments, in conjunction with electronic-structure calculations, permit identification of the elementary reactions at a molecular level and thus allow us to unravel detailed mechanistic aspects. Where appropriate, these results are compared with findings from related studies in solution or on surfaces.
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