This article presents a multifaceted study of the reaction H+ C2 H6 → H2 + C2 H5 and three of its deuterium-substituted isotopologs. First we present high-level electronic structure calculations by the W1, G3SX, MCG3-MPWB, CBS-APNO, and MC-QCISD/3 methods that lead to a best estimate of the barrier height of 11.8±0.5 kcalmol. Then we obtain a specific reaction parameter for the MPW density functional in order that it reproduces the best estimate of the barrier height; this yields the MPW54 functional. The MPW54 functional, as well as the MPW60 functional that was previously parametrized for the H+C H4 reaction, is used with canonical variational theory with small-curvature tunneling to calculate the rate constants for all four ethane reactions from 200 to 2000 K. The final MPW54 calculations are based on curvilinear-coordinate generalized-normal-mode analysis along the reaction path, and they include scaled frequencies and an anharmonic C-C bond torsion. They agree with experiment within 31% for 467-826 K except for a 38% deviation at 748 K; the results for the isotopologs are predictions since these rate constants have never been measured. The kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) are analyzed to reveal the contributions from subsets of vibrational partition functions and from tunneling, which conspire to yield a nonmonotonic temperature dependence for one of the KIEs. The stationary points and reaction-path potential of the MPW54 potential-energy surface are then used to parametrize a new kind of analytical potential-energy surface that combines a semiempirical valence bond formalism for the reactive part of the molecule with a standard molecular mechanics force field for the rest; this may be considered to be either an extension of molecular mechanics to treat a reactive potential-energy surface or a new kind of combined quantum-mechanical/molecular mechanical (QM/MM) method in which the QM part is semiempirical valence bond theory; that is, the new potential-energy surface is a combined valence bond molecular mechanics (CVBMM) surface. Rate constants calculated with the CVBMM surface agree with the MPW54 rate constants within 12% for 534-2000 K and within 23% for 200-491 K. The full CVBMM potential-energy surface is now available for use in variety of dynamics calculations, and it provides a prototype for developing CVBMM potential-energy surfaces for other reactions.
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This work was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.