Interaction of hydrogen with metal nitrides and imides

Abstract

The pursuit of a clean and healthy environment has stimulated much effort in the development of technologies for the utilization of hydrogen-based energy. A critical issue is the need for practical systems for hydrogen storage, a problem that remains unresolved after several decades of exploration. In this context, the possibility of storing hydrogen in advanced carbon materials has generated considerable interest. But confirmation and a mechanistic understanding of the hydrogen-storage capabilities of these materials still require much work1,2,3,4,5. Our previously published work on hydrogen uptake by alkali-doped carbon nanotubes cannot be reproduced by others6,7,8. It was realized by us and also demonstrated by Pinkerton et al.8 that most of the weight gain was due to moisture, which the alkali oxide picked up from the atmosphere. Here we describe a different material system, lithium nitride, which shows potential as a hydrogen storage medium. Lithium nitride is usually employed as an electrode, or as a starting material for the synthesis of binary or ternary nitrides9,10. Using a variety of techniques, we demonstrate that this compound can also reversibly take up large amounts of hydrogen. Although the temperature required to release the hydrogen at usable pressures is too high for practical application of the present material, we suggest that more investigations are needed, as the metal–N–H system could prove to be a promising route to reversible hydrogen storage.

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Figure 1: Weight variations during hydrogen absorption and desorption processes over Li3N samples, details are given in the Methods.
Figure 2: Pressure–composition (P–C) isotherms of Li3N and Li2NH samples.
Figure 3: Structure changes during hydrogen absorption and desorption processes.
Figure 4: P–C isotherms of the Ca2NH sample measured at 500 °C and 550 °C, respectively.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. Nazri and the General Motors R&D Centre (Warren, Detroit, USA) for the facilitation of confirmation tests. The work is financially supported by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) of Singapore.

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Correspondence to Ping Chen.

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Chen, P., Xiong, Z., Luo, J. et al. Interaction of hydrogen with metal nitrides and imides. Nature 420, 302–304 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01210

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