The stability of monomeric formaldehyde encapsulated in the lithium-decorated metal-organic framework Li-MOF-5 was investigated by means of density functional calculations with the M06-L functional and the 6-31G(d,p) basis set. To assess the efficiency of Li-MOF-5 for formaldehyde preservation, we consider the reaction kinetics and the thermodynamic equilibrium between formaldehyde and its trimerized product, 1,3,5-trioxane. We propose that trimerization of encapsulated formaldehyde takes place in a single reaction step with an activation energy of 34.5 kcal mol−1. This is 17.2 kcal mol−1 higher than the corresponding activation energy in the bare system. In addition, the reaction energy of the system studied herein is endothermic by 6.1 kcal mol−1 and the Gibbs free energy (ΔG) of the reaction becomes positive (11.0 kcal mol−1). Consequently, the predicted reverse rate for the trimerization reaction in the Li-MOF-5 is significantly faster than the forward rate. The calculations show that the oligomerization of formaldehyde in Li-MOF-5 is a reversible reaction, suggesting that such a zeolite might be a good candidate material for preserving formaldehyde in its monomeric form.
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