Hydrogen in Important and Functional Minerals

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Chemistry


The most common element in the universe is hydrogen and it is found in numerous materials of use to mankind. This includes many useful inorganic materials and minerals; for example zeolites that are used dry gases, make low alcohol beer, produce petrol and in ion exchange applications ( for example in detergents and heavy metal removal from wastes). Many building materials - which are mainly derived from natural minerals- also involve water ( the most common hydrogen containing compound on earth) in their processes and application. So for example the formation of cements is a complex reaction involving water, plasterboard ( gypsum) is a hydrate and natural clays are dehydrated during the production of ceramics. Hydrogen also plays an important role in many areas of mineralogy and environmental chemistry; example include the fact that many natural metal ores are hydroxides and hydrates as are the corrosion products of many metals e.g. rust, uranium oxide hydratesUntil recently scientists did not have a reliable and easily-applied method of finding where the hydrogen atoms are in many of these compounds and minerals; the aim of this project is to use a newly develop method to do this. We intend to do this by using a unique probe of the very light hydrogen atom - which is through scattering a beam of neutrons from the material. Normally such neutron scattering is very poor for hydrogen containing compounds but by using very high numbers of neutrons and applying sophisticated methods of collecting and analysing the data we will be able to achieve our goal. We will thus be able to find where the hydrogen atoms are in many important chemicals and minerals and this will in turn lead to an a better understanding of their properties and environmental features.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/G068038/1 01/10/2009 31/08/2012 £135,851
EP/G068038/2 Transfer EP/G068038/1 01/09/2012 29/11/2013 £47,978
Description An extremely successful project showing how neutron power diffraction can be used to study hydrogen in minerals and materials. Of specific note was the investigation of very strong hydrogen bonds in silicate minerals of key importance in modelling the role of water in Earth's mantle. Synthesis work during the project also produced and characterised a large number of new functional material phases.
Exploitation Route The methodology demonstarted in ths project for studying hydrogen in functional and important minerals is now being widely applied in materials chemistry a mineralogy and is of particular importance in studying strong hydrogen bonds.

A new diffractometer specifically for studying hydrogen in such systems is being design for implementation on the ESS
Sectors Environment