Press Release

Researchers at the University of Bayreuth Discovers New Nitrogen-Based Compounds for Energy Storage

Researchers at the University of Bayreuth have discovered  new nitrogen-based compounds for energy storage.

Takeaway points

  • Researchers at the University of Bayreuth Discovers  New Nitrogen-Based Compounds for Energy Storage
  • This was announced by the university in their press release.
  • The researchers’ reports are published in the “Nature Communications” journal. 

New  Discovery

Researchers at the University of Bayreuth found new substances on Tuesday that use nitrogen and other elements to store energy really well. This was announced by the university in a press release stating that the researchers’ reports are published in the “Nature Communications” Journal. 

According to the report, Bayreuth researchers combined four new scandium nitrides: Sc2N6, Sc2N8, ScN5, and Sc4N3, and characterized their crystal structures and chemical properties. They found out that these compounds have a high energy density, which makes them potentially attractive as high-performance propellants and explosives. The calculated properties of these materials show a significantly higher detonation velocity, a higher detonation pressure, and a higher energy storage capacity compared to conventional explosives such as trinitrotoluene (TNT).

PhD student Andrey Aslandukov, the first author of the paper, gave the report of the four scandium nitrides that they found and elaborated more. 

“The two novel catenated nitrogen units N66- and N86- obtained in this study significantly expand the list of anionic nitrogen oligomers that make a remarkable contribution to the fundamental understanding of nitrogen chemistry under high pressure,”  said Andrey.

Prof. Leonid Dubovinsky said, “Synthesized Sc2N6, Sc2N8, and ScN5 solids are promising high-energy-density materials with calculated volumetric energy density, detonation velocity, and detonation pressure up to 3 times higher than those of common explosives trinitrotoluene (TNT). High-pressure chemistry demonstrates the existence and diversity of polynitrides, opening perspectives for their applications in science and technology.”

What are High Energy Density Materials?

In the report, it was explained that high-energy density materials are materials that can store large quantities of energy in small volumes. These materials are of great interest for applications in space research and defence.

They went further to explain that high-energy density materials (HEDMs) are pivotal in various applications due to their superior energetic performance, which includes high detonation velocity, detonation pressure, and energy storage capacity. Their application in space exploration as rocket propellants and in defense as explosives is of critical importance for modern society. The unique chemical properties of these materials, such as the ability to store vast amounts of energy in a relatively small volume, make them indispensable for advancing technology in areas requiring high-power outputs and compact energy storage solutions.

Nitrogen-bearing compounds are among the most effective choices for HEDMs. Nitrogen’s ability to form various stable and energetically favorable bonds of different order, single N-N, double N=N, or triple N≡N, allows for the synthesis of a wide range of compounds with tailored properties. Nitrogen-rich materials are capable of releasing a huge amount of energy during decomposition or combustion (when single bonds are replaced by triple ones), making them highly effective as propellants and explosives. The decomposition of nitrogen-bearing compounds often results in the formation of nitrogen gas (N2), which is a stable, inert, and environmentally friendly product. the report says.

For mastering HEDMs, the molecular weight is a very important parameter: the lighter the elements forming a solid, the higher the gravimetric energy density of the compound. Since scandium is the lightest transition metal, its polynitrides (compounds containing numerous single-bonded nitrogen atoms) are especially promising as HEDMs, as was predicted in many computational studies. However, hitherto scandium polynitrides have been unknown.

The discovery of this new nitrogen-based compound for energy storage marks a significant advancement in the field of sustainable energy technology. With its promising properties and potential applications, it offers a compelling solution to the pressing challenges of energy storage and renewable energy integration.

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