We conclude that NO * is oxidized to NOJ synergistically, i.e., in a mutually cooperative process, when methane is oxidized to carbon dioxide. Note also that the number of OH' free radicals is increased as a result of the process, due to the photochemical decomposition of formaldehyde. Thus hydroxyl radical is not only a catalyst in the overall reaction but also a product of it.

The initial step of the mechanism—the abstraction by OH* of a hydrogen atom from methane—is a slow process, requiring about a decade to occur on average. Once this has happened, however, the subsequent steps leading to formaldehyde occur very rapidly. The slowness of the initial step in methane h,0


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