Carbon dioxide for hydrogen storage via formic acid derivatives and methanol

Securing our energy future while minimizing the associated environmental impacts is a challenging endeavor and the fundamental aspect of sustainable development. The choice of energy resource and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), are key parameters in this process. Hydrogen gas (H2) is an energy carrier with the potential of "green" production and utilization, in addition to having attractive inherent fuel properties. However, complications during its storage arise from its intrinsically light nature. Chemical H2 fixation within liquid formic acid (FA) and its derivatives is therefore a promising approach. In the present dissertation, reversible H2 storage cycles based on homogeneous FA/formate dehydrogenation and CO2/bicarbonate hydrogenation, as well as the related CO2 transformation to methanol are investigated. The first chapter provides an overview of challenges underlying energy sustainability, prospects for integration of H2 with our energy infrastructure, the employment of FA as a liquid organic hydrogen carrier and state of the art homogeneous catalysts for selective FA dehydrogenation and CO2 hydrogenation. The combination of these reactions to form a closed CO2 loop is the basic concept behind a reversible H2 storage system as it is envisaged by our group. In the second chapter, FA dehydrogenation/formation in the presence of triethylamine is discussed. The results are summarized as equilibrium positions within this couple, which can be controlled by adjustment of the operating pressure and temperature. The basic additive promotes H2 fixation but also allows for on-demand H2 release from a triethylammonium formate substrate. The third chapter addresses H2 storage in basic media, i.e. aqueous bicarbonate hydrogenation, with a Ru(III) catalyst precursor and a number of water-soluble phosphine ligands. The latter are introduced to tailor the exhibited activity by affecting the steric and electronic parameters of the catalyst. All phosphines provide high bicarbonate conversions, albeit with low reaction rates. Chapter four summarizes the optimization and mechanistic studies of the reversible formate dehydrogenation reaction, in the presence of a Ru(II)-mTPPTS catalyst. Cesium is chosen as the cation for the formate/bicarbonate salts because it leads to their high solubility in the aqueous solvent and therefore an increase in the hydrogen storage capacity. The involved equilibria are determined and a reaction mechanism for the formate dehydrogenation step is proposed, based on NMR studies. Advantages of the presented approach include the utilization of water as the solvent, the absence of CO2 throughout the reactions and the successful in situ recycling of the environmentally benign hydrogen carrier. In Chapter five the feasibility of producing both FA and methanol directly from CO2, at room temperature, in a "one-pot" reaction using aqueous solvent is demonstrated. Formic acid formation occurs in water without additives or organic solvents with a homogeneous iridium catalyst. Formic acid also undergoes disproportionation into methanol, with the same complex. Under optimized conditions, FA conversions of 98% and methanol selectivities of 96% are achieved in the disproportionation reaction. These reactions are relevant to the field of sustainable H2 storage, but might also provide an alternative approach to the commercial fossil-fuel-dependent production of formic acid and methanol.


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