An unexpected pairing of frustrated molecules

Jan 21, 2013 by Kristin Manke
An unexpected pairing of frustrated molecules
PNNL researchers built simulations showing how two molecules combine to activate hydrogen, shedding new light on a reaction that could, one day, support hydrogenation for biofuels.

While their shapes frustrate traditional bonding, two unreactive molecules come together and surround themselves within a solvent cage to create a reactive environment and split hydrogen.

Researchers at DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are revealing the role of the solvent in this process. Splitting a molecule into a proton and a hydride ion (H-), known as activating the hydrogen, is vital for sustainable energy production and storage. The pair of is called a frustrated Lewis pair.

"Conventional wisdom says that frustrated Lewis pairs should not be able to activate hydrogen—but they do. We wanted to know why," said Dr. Greg Schenter, a theoretical chemist on this project.

Turning plant material or other renewable resources into fuels requires adding hydrogen without taking up excessive energy. This requirement demands an effective catalyst. These studies provide fundamental insights into the processes that could one day be used to create that catalyst.

Explore further: New, more versatile version of Geckskin: Gecko-like adhesives now useful for real world surfaces

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hydrogen storage in nanoparticles works

Mar 31, 2008

Dutch chemist Kees Baldé has demonstrated that hydrogen can be efficiently stored in nanoparticles. This allows hydrogen storage to be more easily used in mobile applications. Baldé discovered that 30 nanometre particles ...

World's fastest nickel-based complex

Jul 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis and Villanova University designed a nickel-based complex that more than doubled previously reported ...

Recommended for you

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

Apr 16, 2014

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...