In this paper, the Arrhenius curves of selected hydrogen-transfer reactions for which kinetic data are available in a large temperature range are reviewed. The curves are discussed in terms of the one-dimensional Bell–Limbach tunnelling model. The main parameters of this model are the barrier heights of the isotopic reactions, barrier width of the H-reaction, tunnelling masses, pre-exponential factor and minimum energy for tunnelling to occur. The model allows one to compare different reactions in a simple way and prepare the kinetic data for more-dimensional treatments. The first type of reactions is concerned with reactions where the geometries of the reacting molecules are well established and the kinetic data of the isotopic reactions are available in a large temperature range. Here, it is possible to study the relation between kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) and chemical structure. Examples are the tautomerism of porphyrin, the porphyrin anion and related compounds exhibiting intramolecular hydrogen bonds of medium strength. We observe pre-exponential factors of the order of kT/h≅1013 s−1 corresponding to vanishing activation entropies in terms of transition state theory. This result is important for the second type of reactions discussed in this paper, referring mostly to liquid solutions. Here, the reacting molecular configurations may be involved in equilibria with non- or less-reactive forms. Several cases are discussed, where the less-reactive forms dominate at low or at high temperature, leading to unusual Arrhenius curves. These cases include examples from small molecule solution chemistry like the base-catalysed intramolecular H-transfer in diaryltriazene, 2-(2′-hydroxyphenyl)-benzoxazole, 2-hydroxy-phenoxyl radicals, as well as in the case of an enzymatic system, thermophilic alcohol dehydrogenase. In the latter case, temperature-dependent KIEs are interpreted in terms of a transition between two regimes with different temperature-independent KIEs.
One contribution of 16 to a Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Quantum catalysis in enzymes—beyond the transition state theory paradigm’.
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