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Volume 170, 2014
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Dry mechanochemical synthesis of alane from LiH and AlCl3

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A mechanochemical process for the synthesis of alane (AlH3) starting from lithium hydride (LiH) and aluminium chloride (AlCl3) at room temperature and the underlying reaction pathway have been studied. In contrast to a conventional process using the same two reactants dissolved in diethyl ether, our approach enables a solvent-free synthesis, thereby directly leading to adduct-free alane. The method described here is quick and efficient, resulting in the quantitative conversion of all aluminium in the starting mixture to alane. Both the intermediate compounds formed during the reaction and the final products have been characterized by powder X-ray diffraction, solid-state 27Al NMR spectroscopy, and temperature programmed desorption analysis of the as-milled mixtures. We show that excess LiH in the starting mixture (with an optimal ratio of 9LiH : 1AlCl3) is essential for the formation and stability of Al–H bonds, initially in the form of alanates and, eventually, as alane. Further processing of this mixture, gradually adding AlCl3 to reach the ideal 3LiH : 1AlCl3 stoichiometry, appears to restrict the local accumulation of AlCl3 during the ball-milling process, thereby preventing the formation of unstable intermediates that decompose to metallic Al and molecular hydrogen. We also demonstrate that under the milling conditions used, a moderate hydrogen pressure of ca. 300 bar is required to suppress competing reactions that lead to the formation of metallic Al at room temperature. The identification of the reaction intermediates at each stage of the synthesis provides significant insight into the mechanism of this solid-state reaction, which may potentially afford a more rational approach toward the production of AlH3 in a simple solvent-free process.

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Publication details

The article was received on 29 Dec 2013, accepted on 17 Feb 2014 and first published on 17 Feb 2014

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3FD00161J
Author version available: Download Author version (PDF)
Citation: Faraday Discuss., 2014,170, 137-153
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    Dry mechanochemical synthesis of alane from LiH and AlCl3

    I. Z. Hlova, S. Gupta, J. F. Goldston, T. Kobayashi, M. Pruski and V. K. Pecharsky, Faraday Discuss., 2014, 170, 137
    DOI: 10.1039/C3FD00161J

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