The Beckmann rearrangement of acetone oxime promoted by proton transfers in the supercritical water has been investigated by means of the hybrid quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical approach combined with the theory of energy representation (QM/MM-ER) recently developed. The transition state (TS) structures have been explored by ab initio calculations for the reaction of hydrated acetone oxime on the assumption that the reaction is catalyzed by proton transfers along the hydrogen bonds connecting the solute and the solvent water molecules. Up to two water molecules have been considered as reactants that take part in the proton transfers. As a result of the density functional theory calculations with B3LYP functional and aug-cc-pVDZ basis set, it has been found that participation of two water molecules in the reaction reduces the activation free energy by -12.3 kcalmol. Furthermore, the QM/MM-ER simulations have revealed that the TS is more stabilized than the reactant state in the supercritical water by 2.7 kcalmol when two water molecules are involved in the reaction. Solvation free energies of the reactant and the TS have been decomposed into terms due to the electronic polarization of the solute, electron density fluctuation, and others to elucidate the origin of the stabilization of the TS as compared with the reactant. It has been revealed that the promotion of the chemical reaction due to the hydration mainly originates from the interaction between the nonpolarized solute and the solvent water molecules at the supercritical state.
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