For molecules with multiple torsions, an accurate evaluation of the molecular partition function requires consideration of multiple structures and their torsional-potential anharmonicity. We previously developed a method called MS-T for this problem, and it requires an exhaustive conformational search with frequency calculations for all the distinguishable conformers; this can become expensive for molecules with a large number of torsions (and hence a large number of structures) if it is carried out with high-level methods. In the present work, we propose a cost-effective method to approximate the MS-T partition function when there are a large number of structures, and we test it on a transition state that has eight torsions. This new method is a dual-level method that combines an exhaustive conformer search carried out by a low-level electronic structure method (for instance, AM1, which is very inexpensive) and selected calculations with a higher-level electronic structure method (for example, density functional theory with a functional that is suitable for conformational analysis and thermochemistry). To provide a severe test of the new method, we consider a transition state structure that has 8 torsional degrees of freedom; this transition state structure is formed along one of the reaction pathways of the hydrogen abstraction reaction (at carbon-1) of ketohydroperoxide (KHP; its IUPAC name is 4-hydroperoxy-2-pentanone) by OH radical. We find that our proposed dual-level method is able to significantly reduce the computational cost for computing MS-T partition functions for this test case with a large number of torsions and with a large number of conformers because we carry out high-level calculations for only a fraction of the distinguishable conformers found by the low-level method. In the example studied here, the dual-level method with 40 high-level optimizations (1.8% of the number of optimizations in a coarse-grained full search and 0.13% of the number of optimizations in a fine-grained full search) reproduces the full calculation of the high-level partition function within a factor of 1.0 to 2.0 from 200 to 1000 K. The error in the dual-level method can be further reduced to factors of 0.6 to 1.1 over the whole temperature interval from 200 to 2400 K by optimizing 128 structures (5.9% of the number of optimizations in a fine-grained full search and 0.41% of the number of optimizations in a fine-grained full search). These factor-of-Two or better errors are small compared to errors up to a factor of 1.0 × 103 if one neglects multistructural effects for the case under study.
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