The kinetics of hydrogen absorption/desorption can be improved by decreasing particle size down to a few nanometres. However, the associated evolution of activation energy remains unclear. In an attempt to clarify such an evolution with respect to particle size, we electrochemically deposited Mg nanoparticles on a catalytic nickel and noncatalytic titanium substrate. At a short deposition time of 1 h, magnesium particles with a size of 68 ± 11 nm could be formed on the nickel substrate, whereas longer deposition times led to much larger particles of 421 ± 70 nm. Evaluation of the hydrogen desorption properties of the deposited magnesium nanoparticles confirmed the effectiveness of the nickel substrate in facilitating the recombination of hydrogen, but also a significant decrease in activation energy from 56.1 to 37.8 kJ·mol−1
as particle size decreased from 421 ± 70 to 68 ± 11 nm. Hence, the activation energy was found to be intrinsically linked to magnesium particle size. Such a reduction in activation energy was associated with the decrease of path lengths for hydrogen diffusion at the desorbing MgH2
/Mg interface. Further reduction in particle size to a few nanometres to remove any barrier for hydrogen diffusion would then leave the single nucleation and growth of the magnesium phase as the only remaining rate-limiting step, assuming that the magnesium surface can effectively catalyse the dissociation/recombination of hydrogen.
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