American Chemical Society
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Modeling Hydrogen Release from Water with Borane and Alane Catalysts: A Unified Reaction Valley Approach

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posted on 2020-10-16, 18:17 authored by Sadisha Nanayakkara, Marek Freindorf, Yunwen Tao, Elfi Kraka
The unified reaction valley approach combined with the local vibrational mode and ring puckering analysis is applied to investigate the hydrogen evolution from water in the presence of small hydrides such as BH3, metal hydrides as AlH3, and their derivatives. We studied a series of reactions involving BH3, AlH3, B2H6, Al2H6, and AlH3BH3 with one- and two-water molecules, considering multiple reaction paths. In addition, the influence of the aqueous medium was examined. A general reaction mechanism was identified for most of the reactions. Those that deviate could be associated with unusually high reaction barriers with no hydrogen release. The charge transfer along the reaction path suggests that a viable hydrogen release is achieved when the catalyst adopts the role of a charge donor during the chemical processes. The puckering analysis showed that twistboat and boat forms are the predominant configurations in the case of an intermediate six-membered ring formation, which influences the activation barrier. The local mode analysis was used as a tool to detect the H–H bond formation as well as to probe catalyst regenerability. Based on the correlation between the activation energy and the change in the charge separation for cleaving O–H and B­(Al)–H bonds, two promising subsets of reactions could be identified along with prescriptions for lowering the reaction barrier individually with electron-donating/withdrawing substituents.