Ab initio calculations for the protonation of the C-H and C-C bonds of methane, ethane, propane and isobutane by a superacid moiety was carried out. For the C-H protonation (H/H exchange) the transition state resembles an H-carbonium ion coordinated with the superacid. The activation energy for the H/H exchange was about 16 kcal.mol-1, at B3LYP/6-31++G** + RECP (Sb) level, regardless the type of C-H bond being protonated. For the C-C protonation the activation energy depends on the structure of the hydrocarbon and was always higher than the activation energy for C-H protonation, indicating a higher steric demand.
superacid; carbonium ions; alkane; DFT