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Environment

Hydrogen Fuel From Liquids

A cyclic amine borane shows potential as a solution-phase source of hydrogen gas

by Journal News and Community
November 28, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 48

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Credit: Shih-Yuan liu
Hydrogen bubbles from an iron chloride-coated stir bar submerged in liquid BN-methylcyclopentane.
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Credit: Shih-Yuan liu
Hydrogen bubbles from an iron chloride-coated stir bar submerged in liquid BN-methylcyclopentane.

A cyclic amine borane that remains liquid over a wide temperature range can release hydrogen, making it a potential hydrogen fuel storage material, reports Shih-Yuan Liu of the University of Oregon (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja208834v). Solids have dominated the hunt for a way to enhance hydrogen storage, but liquids could slip into the current gasoline infrastructure more easily than solids. For that reason, Liu’s group synthesized BN-methyl­cyclo­pentane, a liquid that’s stable in air and water. When BN-methyl­cyclo­pentane reacts with an iron chloride catalyst at 80 °C, it forms a trimer and releases hydrogen. The researchers can regenerate the starting material from the trimer, which is also a liquid, with 92% yield by first reacting it with methanol and then with lithium aluminum hydride. Liu cautions that more work is needed to increase BN-methyl­cyclo­pentane’s hydrogen yield and to make the regeneration more energy efficient.

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