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Selective decomposition of hydrazine over metal free carbonaceous materials

Barlocco, Ilaria, Bellomi, Silvio, Tumiati, Simone, Fumagalli, Patrizia, Dimitratos, Nikolaos, Roldan, Alberto ORCID: and Villa, Alberto 2022. Selective decomposition of hydrazine over metal free carbonaceous materials. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 24 (5) , pp. 3017-3029. 10.1039/D1CP05179B
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Herein we report a combined experimental and computational investigation unravelling the hydrazine hydrate decomposition reaction on metal-free catalysts. The study focuses on commercial graphite and two different carbon nanofibers, pyrolytically stripped (CNF-PS) and high heat-treated (CNF-HHT), respectively, treated at 700 and 3000 °C to increase their intrinsic defects. Raman spectroscopy demonstrated a correlation between the initial catalytic activity and the intrinsic defectiveness of carbonaceous materials. CNF-PS with higher defectivity (ID/IG = 1.54) was found to be the best performing metal-free catalyst, showing a hydrazine conversion of 94% after 6 hours of reaction and a selectivity to H2 of 89%. In addition, to unveil the role of NaOH, CNF-PS was also tested in the absence of alkaline solution, showing a decrease in the reaction rate and selectivity to H2. Density functional theory (DFT) demonstrated that the single vacancies (SV) present on the graphitic layer are the only active sites promoting hydrazine decomposition, whereas other defects such as double vacancy (DV) and Stone–Wales (SW) defects are unable to adsorb hydrazine fragments. Two symmetrical and one asymmetrical dehydrogenation pathways were found, in addition to an incomplete decomposition pathway forming N2 and NH3. On the most stable hydrogen production pathway, the effect of the alkaline medium was elucidated through calculations concerning the diffusion and recombination of atomic hydrogen. Indeed, the presence of NaOH helps the extraction of H species without additional energetic barriers, as opposed to the calculations performed in a polarizable continuum medium. Considering the initial hydrazine dissociative adsorption, the first step of the dehydrogenation pathway is more favourable than the scission of the N–N bond, which leads to NH3 as the product. This first reaction step is crucial to define the reaction mechanisms and the computational results are in agreement with the experimental ones. Moreover, comparing two different hydrogen production pathways (with and without diffusion and recombination), we confirmed that the presence of sodium hydroxide in the experimental reaction environment can modify the energy gap between the two pathways, leading to an increased reaction rate and selectivity to H2.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI)
Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry
ISSN: 1463-9076
Funders: Cardiff University
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 February 2022
Date of Acceptance: 24 December 2021
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 18:12

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