May 8, 2020
Journal Article

Control of hydrogen release and uptake in amine borane molecular complexes: Thermodynamics of ammonia borane, ammonium borohydride, and the diammoniate of diborane

Mark Bowden
Thomas Autrey
Abhijeet Karkamkar


Molecular complexes of Lewis acid-base pairs can be used to activate molecular hydrogen for applications ranging from hydrogen storage for fuel cells to catalytic hydrogenation reactions. In this paper, we examine the factors that determine the thermodynamics of hydrogen activation of a Lewis acid-base pair using the pedagogical examples of ammonia borane (NH3BH3, AB) and ammonium borohydride ([NH4][BH4], ABH2). At ambient temperatures, ABH2 loses hydrogen to form the Lewis acid-base complex AB, suggesting that free energy drives the reaction to release hydrogen. However, direct measurement of the reaction enthalpy is not straightforward given the complex decomposition pathways leading to the formation of the diammoniate of diborane ([NH3BH3NH3][BH4], DADB). In this work, we compare two approaches for deriving the thermodynamic relationships among AB, DADB, and ABH2. This work was supported by the US Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences' Chemical Sciences, Geosciences & Biosciences Division. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is operated by Battelle for the US Department of Energy.

Revised: May 8, 2020 | Published: May 23, 2011