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: The seashell-inspired material inspiring a new wave of safety gear in sport

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

Toward 'green' paper-thin, flexible electronics

May 20, 2015

The rapid evolution of gadgets has brought us an impressive array of "smart" products from phones to tablets, and now watches and glasses. But they still haven't broken free from their rigid form.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.