A new approach for preventing zero-point energy (ZPE) violation in quasi-classical trajectory (QCT) simulations is presented and applied to H2CO “roaming” reactions. Zero-point energy may be problematic in roaming reactions because they occur at or near bond dissociation thresholds and these channels may be incorrectly open or closed depending on if, or how, ZPE has been treated. Here we run QCT simulations on a “ZPE-corrected” potential energy surface defined as the sum of the molecular potential energy surface (PES) and the global harmonic ZPE surface. Five different harmonic ZPE estimates are examined with four, on average, giving values within 4 kJ/mol—chemical
accuracy—for H2CO. The local harmonic ZPE, at arbitrary molecular configurations, is subsequently defined in terms of “projected” Cartesian coordinates and a global ZPE “surface” is constructed using Shepard interpolation. This, combined with a second-order modified Shepard interpolated PES, V, allows us to construct a proof-of-concept ZPE-corrected PES for H2CO, Veff, at no additional computational cost to the PES itself. Both V and Veff are used to model product state distributions from the H + HCO ! H2 + CO abstraction reaction, which are shown to reproduce the literature roaming product state distributions. Our ZPE-corrected PES allows all trajectories to be analysed, whereas, in
previous simulations, a significant proportion was discarded because of ZPE violation. We find ZPE has little effect on product rotational distributions, validating previous QCT simulations. Running trajectories on V, however, shifts the product kinetic energy release to higher energy than on Veff and classical simulations of kinetic energy release should therefore be viewed with caution.