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New form of compound stimulates research on hydrogen storage
Date:12/4/2007

the sample pressures up to 200,000 bar. The pressure of 200,000 bar applied to LiBH4 in the ESRF experiment is about 80 times bigger than the pressure exerted on Earth's crust by Mount Everest (the latter is roughly equal to 2.5 kbar). Although impressive, this figure is not a record - much higher pressures still can be reached in the lab using the same diamond anvil cell technique, but this was not necessary for this experiment.

Diffraction of synchrotron light was used to determine arrangement of atoms in the resulting materials. In this way two novel structures of lithium borohydride were found. One of them is truly unprecedented (image 1) and reveals strikingly short contacts between hydrogen atoms (image 2).

Combined experimental and theoretical efforts suggest that the new from of LiBH4 can release hydrogen at a lower temperature. Filinchuk explains that the new form becomes even more attractive considering the fact it appears already at 10.000 bar, the pressure used by pharmaceutical companies to compress pellets. The authors argue that this form can be stabilized by chemical substitutions even at ambient pressure. For now, the teams next step is to apply chemical engineering to the compound to freeze the new form at ambient conditions and check whether it shows more favorable hydrogen storage properties than pure lithium borohydride.

Despite the fact that hydrogen is not well detected by X-rays in general, scientists managed to see it thanks to the high brilliance of the ESRF synchrotron light. Although theory failed to predict the novel structure, it fully supports this experimental finding. Therefore, this work presents a breakthrough in experimental studies of hydrogen-rich system, explains the failure of the previous theoretical predictions and suggests the novel form of the compound to be instrumental in obtaining improved hydrogen storage materials.

Synchrotron radiation was recently successfully applied to poten
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Contact: Montserrat Capellas
capellas@esrf.fr
33-476-882-663
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility  
Source:Eurekalert

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