24 Dec 2018

Analyzing hydrogen storage materials using ATR | Spectroscopy Solutions

In a recent interview with Select Science®, Dr Nikola Biliškov described the work of his team at the Rudjer Bošković Institute (RBI) in Croatia. Working at a government-sponsored laboratory in Zagreb, the team are investigating new materials for the construction of solid-state hydrogen storage. Dr Nikola Biliškov works with infrared spectroscopy to analyze these materials.

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Dr Biliškov used a Golden Gate ATR with heating capabilities to research hydrogen storage materials

With the highest energy content of any common fuel according to its weight, hydrogen is an ideal source of clean fuel. Biliškov is looking into the solid state form of hydrogen, measuring the thermal breakdown process of its ammonia borane compounds.

Boasting a high hydrogen capacity, derivatives of these compounds known as amidoboranes are ideal for storing hydrogen. They are quite stable when at ambient temperatures but only require moderate heating to release their hydrogen. Biliškov aims to learn more about how the compounds decomponse thermally and unwanted by-products (e.g. ammonia).

Using infrared spectroscopy to analyze hydrogen storage materials

Biliškov used the the High Temperature Golden Gate ATR accessory with an Electrical Heating Jacket and in conjunction with a Bomem spectrometer to monitor the reactions of ammonia borane mixed with potassium bromide. This mix suppressed the emission of the pesky by-product, ammonia.

Dr Nikola Biliškov of the Rudjer Bošković Institute | Source: SelectScience®

This accessory gives very useful measurements of temperature-dependent processes in chemical systems and makes Golden Gate one of the most important instruments in my laboratory. Besides these advanced measurements, Golden Gate also allows extremely fast measurements of samples without any preparation. Altogether, this accessory enables the use of IR spectroscopy in a very broad field of applications – it is just a matter of imagination to apply it to different fields of science.

We also have the Golden Gate ATR with heating stage, so we can follow temperature-dependent erosion of the system from room temperature to 200°C.

The combination of techniques permitted by his range of Specac accessories has been a revelation: “A central conclusion has been that the thermo-decomposition of pure ammonia borane is very different than the thermo-decomposition of ammonia borane when it is surrounded by potassium bromide in a pellet for transmission IR spectroscopy.

My colleague found that in transmission mode, when heating the sample in this heating jacket, you can follow the phase transitions, together with their molecular background just by following the slope of the baseline of the infrared spectra and by reading associated spectral changes. It’s very sensitive to the present phases.

Source of quotes: SelectScience®

Going forward, Biliškov is hoping to continue advocating hydrogen as an energy carrier, as well as a increase in battery usage.

It is very important to investigate not only materials for hydrogen storage, but also those for hydrogen production and for batteries like lithium, sodium, aluminum etc. These are all very important fields of current research. 

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