Porous materials adsorb H2 through physisorption, a process which typically has a rather low enthalpy of adsorption (e.g. ca. 4 to 7 kJ mol−1 for MOFs), thus requiring cryogenic temperatures for hydrogen storage. In this paper, we consider some of the issues associated with the accurate characterisation of the hydrogen adsorption properties of microporous materials. We present comparative gravimetric hydrogen sorption data over a range of temperatures for different microporous materials including an activated carbon, a zeolite, two MOFs and a microporous organic polymer. Hydrogen adsorption isotherms were used to calculate the enthalpy of adsorption as a function of hydrogen uptake, and to monitor the temperature dependence of the uptake of hydrogen. Under the conditions investigated, it was found that the Tóth equation provided better fits to the absolute isotherms compared to the Sips (Langmuir–Freundlich) equation at low pressures, whereas it appeared to overestimate the maximum saturation capacity. The isosteric enthalpy of adsorption was calculated by either: fitting the Sips and Tóth equations to the adsorption isotherms and then applying the Clausius–Clapeyron equation; or by using a multiparameter Virial-type adsorption isotherm equation. It was found that the calculated enthalpy of adsorption depended strongly upon the method employed and the temperature and pressure range used. It is shown that a usable capacity can be calculated from the variable temperature isotherms for all materials by defining a working pressure range (e.g. 2 to 15 bar) over which the material will be used.
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