Solution-Phase Synthesis of Heteroatom-Substituted Carbon Scaffolds for Hydrogen Storage

Zhong Jin, Zhengzong Sun, Lin J. Simpson, Kevin J. O'Neill, Philip A. Parilla, Yan Li, Nicholas P. Stadie, Channing C. Ahn, Carter Kittrell, James M. Tour

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44 Scopus Citations


This paper reports a bottom-up solution-phase process for the preparation of pristine and heteroatom (boron, phosphorus, or nitrogen)-substituted carbon scaffolds that show good surface areas and enhanced hydrogen adsorption capacities and binding energies. The synthesis method involves heating chlorine-containing small organic molecules with metallic sodium at reflux in high-boiling solvents. For heteroatom incorporation, heteroatomic electrophiles are added to the reaction mixture. Under the reaction conditions, micrometer-sized graphitic sheets assembled by 3-5 nm-sized domains of graphene nanoflakes are formed, and when they are heteroatom-substituted, the heteroatoms are uniformly distributed. The substituted carbon scaffolds enriched with heteroatoms (boron ∼7.3%, phosphorus ∼8.1%, and nitrogen ∼28.1%) had surface areas as high as 900 m2 g-1 and enhanced reversible hydrogen physisorption capacities relative to pristine carbon scaffolds or common carbonaceous materials. In addition, the binding energies of the substituted carbon scaffolds, as measured by adsorption isotherms, were 8.6, 8.3, and 5.6 kJ mol-1 for the boron-, phosphorus-, and nitrogen-enriched carbon scaffolds, respectively.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)15246-15251
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number43
StatePublished - 2010

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-50246


  • hydrogen storage


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