Light Iron for Hydrogen

Light Iron for Hydrogen

Author: ChemViews

The generation of hydrogen from formic acid has been achieved by using an iron catalyst generated in situ. As reported by Matthias Beller and Ralf Ludwig, University of Rostock, Germany, this represents a cheap and convenient method of H2 generation for use in fuel cells.

The catalysts consisted of Fe3(CO)12/PPh3 with either a phosphorus- or nitrogen-based ligand which allowed the team to attain turnover numbers and frequencies of 126 and 200 h-1, respectively.

Visible light was required to activate and drive the catalytic system, creating a simple switch for H2 evolution. Spectroscopic studies showed the mechanism includes an iron hydride species that was formed exclusively under irradiation. DFT calculations showed light also promoted the dissociation of PPh3 over CO, thereby preventing the deactivation of the catalytic system.


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