Computational Insights on Functional Materials for Clean Energy Storage Modeling, Structure and Thermodynamics

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The exponential increase in the demands of world’s energy and the devastating effects of current fossil fuels based sources has forced us to reduce our dependence on the current sources as well as finding cleaner, cheaper and renewable alternates. Being abundant, efficient and renewable, hydrogen can be opted as the best possible replacement of the diminishing and harmful fossil fuels. But the transformation towards the hydrogen-based economy is hindered by the unavailability of suitable storage medium for hydrogen. First principles calculations based on density functional theory has been employed in this thesis to investigate the structures modelling and thermodynamics of various efficient materials capable of storing hydrogen under chemisorption and physisorption mechanisms.Thanks to their high storage capacity, abundance and low cost, metal hydride (MgH2) has been considered as promising choice for hydrogen storage. However, the biggest drawback is their strong binding with the absorbed hydrogen under chemisorption, which make them inappropriate for operation at ambient conditions. Different strategies have been applied to improve the thermodynamics including doping with light and transitions metals in different phases of MgH2 in bulk form.  Application of mechanical strain along with Al, Si and Ti doping on MgH2 (001) and (100) surfaces has also been found very useful in lowering the dehydrogenation energies that ultimately improve adsorption/desorption temperatures.Secondly, in this thesis, two-dimensional materials with high surface area have been studied for the adsorption of hydrogen in molecular form (H2) under physisorption. The main disadvantage of this kind of storage is that the adsorption of H2 with these nanostructures likes graphane, silicene, silicane, BN-sheets, BC3 sheets are low and demand operation at cryogenic conditions. To enhance the H2 binding and attain high storage capacity the above-mentioned nanostructures have been functionalized with light metals (alkali, alkaline) and polylithiated species  (OLi2, CLi3, CLi4). The stabilities of the designed functional materials for H2 storage have been verified by means of molecular dynamics simulations.

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