Capacity enhancement of aqueous borohydride fuels for hydrogen storage in liquids
In this work we demonstrate enhanced hydrogen storage capacities through increased solubility of sodium borate product species in aqueous media achieved by adjusting the sodium (NaOH) to boron (B(OH)3) ratio, i.e., M/B, to obtain a distribution of polyborate anions. For a 1:1mol ratio of NaOH to B(OH)3, M/B=1, the ratio of the hydrolysis product formed from NaBH4 hydrolysis, the sole borate species formed and observed by 11B NMR is sodium metaborate, NaB(OH)4. When the ratio is 1:3 NaOH to B(OH)3, M/B=0.33, a mixture of borate anions is formed and observed as a broad peak in the 11B NMR spectrum. The complex polyborate mixture yields a metastable solution that is difficult to crystallize. Given the enhanced solubility of the polyborate mixture formed when M/B=0.33 it should follow that the hydrolysis of sodium octahydrotriborate, NaB3H8, can provide a greater storage capacity of hydrogen for fuel cell applications compared to sodium borohydride while maintaining a single phase. Accordingly, the hydrolysis of a 23wt.% NaB3H8 solution in water yields a solution having the same complex polyborate mixture as formed by mixing a 1:3M ratio of NaOH and B(OH)3 and releases >8eq of H2. By optimizing the M/B ratio a complex mixture of soluble products, including B3O3(OH)5 2-, B4O5(OH)4 2-, B3O3(OH)4 -, B5O6(OH)4 - and B(OH)3, can be maintained as a single liquid phase throughout the hydrogen release process. Consequently, hydrolysis of NaB3H8 can provide a 40% increase in H2 storage density compared to the hydrolysis of NaBH4 given the decreased solubility of sodium metaborate.