Computational Study of Silica-Supported Transition Metal Fragments for Kubas-type Hydrogen Storage

David Antonelli, Claire V. J. Skipper, Ahmad Hamaed, Nikolas Kaltsoyannisa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To verify the role of the Kubas interaction in transition metal grafted mesoporous silicas, and to rationalize unusual rising enthalpy trends with surface coverage by hydrogen in these systems, computational studies have been performed. Thus, the interaction of H2 with the titanium centers in molecular models for experimentally characterized mesoporous silica-based H2 absorption materials has been studied quantum chemically using gradient corrected density functional theory. The interaction between the titanium and the H2 molecules is found to be of a synergic, Kubas type, and a maximum of four H2 molecules can be bound to each titanium, in good agreement with previous experiments. The average Ti-H2 interaction energies in molecules incorporating benzyl ancillary ligands (models of the experimental systems) increase as the number of bound H2 units increases from two to four, in agreement with the experimental observation that the H2 adsorption enthalpy increases as the number of adsorbed H2 molecules increases. The Ti-H2 interaction is shown to be greater when the titanium is bound to ancillary ligands, which are poor p-acceptors, and when the ancillary ligand causes the least steric hindrance to the metal. Extension of the target systems to vanadium and chromium shows that, for molecules containing hydride ancillary ligands, a good relationship is found between the energies of the frontier molecular orbitals of the molecular fragments, which interact with incoming H2 molecules, and the strength of the M-H2 interaction. For the benzyl systems, both the differences in M-H2 interaction energies and the energy differences in frontier orbital energies are smaller than those in the hydrides, such that conclusions based on frontier orbital energies are less robust than for the hydride systems. Because of the high enthalpies predicted for organometallic fragments containing hydride ligands, and the low affinity of Cr(III) for hydrogen in this study, these features may not be ideal for a practical hydrogen storage system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17296 - 17305
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2010


  • fossil fuels
  • hydrogen storage
  • silica-supported


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