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Published on-line at 05:10:09 PM on Monday, February 25th, 2013

New molecular hydrogen generation technique from red phosphorus, high pressure and UV radiation


The new phosphorus chemistry: from red phosphorus and water to molecular hydrogen and P-oxyacids without solvents, catalysts or radical initiatiors.

Phosphorus is a highly relevant element both in Earth biosphere and in chemical industry, but despite the large number of compounds in which it is present, its white (and toxic) molecular form P4 is the most commonly used in industrial processes. The red one could have a lot of benefits from a safety and an environmental point of view and maybe a combination of not-so-high pressure and UV radiation may make it more interesting for industry.

Dr. Matteo Ceppatelli and colleagues at LENS and ICCOM-CNR have showed in their last paper published on Angewandte Chemie International Edition a very fast and efficient reaction between red phosphorus and water subjected to high-pressure (from 0.1 GPa to 0.6 GPa) and near-UV radiation. Red phosphorus is completely consumed during the reaction to form hydrogen in its molecular form H2 and other products such as PH3 and H3POx, in the complete absence of solvents, catalysts, and radical initiatiors. Moreover, different pressures permit to tuning the composition of final products.

These experiments open the possibility of an efficient production of hydrogen and P-oxyacids of commercial value from simple, abundant, cheap, clean and safe reactants as red phosphorus and water, only thanks to pressure and UV radiation. And not-so-high pressure or temperature as to constitute a technological hurdle.

This work was supported by Firenze Hydrolab through a grant by Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.

Source: Angewandte Chemie International Edition

  • Title:
  • High-Pressure Chemistry of Red Phosphorus and Water under Near-UV Irradiation
  • Authors:
  • Ceppatelli, M Bini, R Caporali, M Peruzzini, M
  • Source: