Thermal Decomposition of Magnesium Borohydride: New Insights from Synchrotron X-Ray Scattering

Nicholas Strange, Noemi Leick, Robert Bell, Margaret Fitzgerald, Svitlana Pylypenko, Andreas Schneemann, Vitalie Stavila, Thomas Gennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus Citations


Magnesium borohydride [Mg(BH4)2] has been extensively investigated as a promising material with applications in energy storage, having properties favorable for both hydrogen and electrochemical storage processes. Recent efforts regarding hydrogen storage to determine conditions optimal for dehydrogenation and hydrogenation have focused on identifying environmental factors that promote various polyborane intermediate pathways. In the present study, we demonstrate the impact of the synthesis route, residual impurities, sample processing, and starting crystalline phase on the structural transformations and decomposition pathways of Mg(BH4)2. Using synchrotron powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), we provide evidence of the residual dimethyl sulfide solvent coordinated inside the pores of ?-Mg(BH4)2even after post-synthetic de-solvation. In situ temperature-resolved PXRD and temperature programed desorption (TPD) indicate that these impurity molecules are removed by heating to 100 °C in vacuo. Furthermore, when ?-Mg(BH4)2is heated slowly under vacuum, we observe a ?- to α-phase transformation in place of the ϵ-Mg(BH4)2"intermediate" structure, which provides a direct connection between the α- and ?-Mg(BH4)2decomposition pathways. At higher temperatures (?150 °C), Mg(BH4)2transitions to the well-known β-phase structure. Although XRD results suggest that the crystalline structures of β-Mg(BH4)2are identical regardless of the starting material, SAXS and transmission electron microscopy indicate that when the ?-phase is used as the starting structure, the resulting β-Mg(BH4)2material exhibits intergranular (i.e., skeletal) porosity, not observed when annealed from the α-phase. These variations of the microstructure may contribute to differences in dehydrogenation mechanisms observed in TPD data among the three currently existing "as-synthesized" Mg(BH4)2structural phases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)10940-10951
Number of pages12
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number24
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-83461


  • electrolytes
  • hydrogen storage
  • magnesium borohydride
  • metal hydrides
  • synchrotron radiation
  • X-ray diffraction
  • X-ray spectroscopy


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