Final Report: Main Group Element Chemistry in Service of Hydrogen Storage and Activation

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Replacing combustion of carbon-based fuels with alternative energy sources that have minimal environmental impact is one of the grand scientific and technological challenges of the early 21st century. Not only is it critical to capture energy from new, renewable sources, it is also necessary to store the captured energy efficiently and effectively for use at the point of service when and where it is needed, which may not be collocated with the collection site. There are many potential storage media but we focus on the storage of energy in chemical bonds. It is more efficient to store energy on a ... continued below

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Dixon, David A. & Anthony J. Arduengo, III September 30, 2010.

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Description

Replacing combustion of carbon-based fuels with alternative energy sources that have minimal environmental impact is one of the grand scientific and technological challenges of the early 21st century. Not only is it critical to capture energy from new, renewable sources, it is also necessary to store the captured energy efficiently and effectively for use at the point of service when and where it is needed, which may not be collocated with the collection site. There are many potential storage media but we focus on the storage of energy in chemical bonds. It is more efficient to store energy on a per weight basis in chemical bonds. This is because it is hard to pack electrons into small volumes with low weight without the use of chemical bonds. The focus of the project was the development of new chemistries to enable DOE to meet its technical objectives for hydrogen storage using chemical hydrogen storage systems. We provided computational chemistry support in terms of thermodynamics, kinetics, and properties prediction in support of the experimental efforts of the DOE Center of Excellence for Chemical Hydrogen Storage. The goal of the Center is to store energy in chemical bonds involving hydrogen atoms. Once the hydrogen is stored in a set of X-H/Y-H bonds, the hydrogen has to be easily released and the depleted fuel regenerated very efficiently. This differs substantially from our current use of fossil fuel energy sources where the reactant is converted to energy plus CO2 (coal) or CO2 and H2O (gasoline, natural gas), which are released into the atmosphere. In future energy storage scenarios, the spent fuel will be captured and the energy storage medium regenerated. This places substantial additional constraints on the chemistry. The goal of the computational chemistry work was to reduce the time to design new materials and develop materials that meet the 2010 and 2015 DOE objectives in terms of weight percent, volume, release time, and regeneration ability. This goal was met in terms of reducing the number of costly experiments and helping to focus the experimental effort on the potentially optimal targets. We have used computational chemistry approaches to predict the thermodynamic properties of a wide range of compounds containing boron, nitrogen, hydrogen, and other elements as appropriate including carbon. These calculations were done in most cases with high level molecular orbital theory methods that have small error bars on the order of ± 1 to 2 kcal/mol. The results were used to benchmark more approximate methods such as density functional theory for larger systems and for database development. We predicted reliable thermodynamics for thousands of compounds for release and regeneration schemes to aid/guide materials design and process design and simulation. These are the first reliable computed values for these compounds and for many represent the only available values. Overall, the computational results have provided us with new insights into the chemistry of main group and organic-base chemical hydrogen systems from the release of hydrogen to the regeneration of spent fuel. A number of experimental accomplishments were also made in this project. The experimental work on hydrogen storage materials centered on activated polarized σ- or π-bonded frameworks that hold the potential for ready dihydrogen activation, uptake, and eventually release. To this end, a large number of non-traditional valence systems including carbenes, cyanocarbons, and C-B and and B-N systems were synthesized and examined. During the course of these studies an important lead arose from the novel valency of a class of stable organic singlet bi-radical systems. A synthetic strategy to an “endless” hydrogen storage polymer has been developed based on our cyanocarbon chemistry. A key issue with the synthetic efforts was being able to link the kinetics of release with the size of the substituents as it was difficult to develop a low molecular weight molecule with the right kinetics. A novel hydrogen activation process has been developed which showed that Lewis acid-base pairs need not be “frustrated” in their reactivity towards activating H2. Reaction can occur at temperatures as low as -80 ºC. We established that the interaction of H2 with the electrophile is a key step in the activation process.

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  • Report No.: DOE/EERE-05GO15059-1
  • Grant Number: FC36-05GO15059
  • DOI: 10.2172/989180 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 989180
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1012175

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  • September 30, 2010

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  • Oct. 14, 2017, 8:36 a.m.

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Dixon, David A. & Anthony J. Arduengo, III. Final Report: Main Group Element Chemistry in Service of Hydrogen Storage and Activation, report, September 30, 2010; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1012175/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.