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Founded in 1887

Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie

International journal of research in physical chemistry and chemical physics

Ed. by Rademann, Klaus

IMPACT FACTOR 2015: 1.183

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.491
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Impact per Publication (IPP) 2015: 1.133

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The Decomposition of Hydrazine in the Gas Phase and over an Iridium Catalyst

Michael W. Schmidt1 / 1

1Department of Chemistry and Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, Ames IA 50011, USA

© 2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie. Volume 227, Issue 9-11, Pages 1301–1336, ISSN (Online) 2196-7156, ISSN (Print) 0942-9352, DOI: 10.1524/zpch.2013.0404, September 2013

Publication History

Published Online:


Hydrazine is an important rocket fuel, used as both a monopropellant and a bipropellant. This paper presents theoretical results to complement the extensive experimental studies of the gas phase and Ir catalyzed decompositions involved in the monopropellant applications of hydrazine. Gas phase electronic structure theory calculations that include electron correlation predict that numerous molecular and free radical reactions occur within the same energy range as the basic free radical pathways: NN bond breaking around 65 kcal/mol and NH bond breaking around 81 kcal/mol. The data suggest that a revision to existing kinetics modeling is desirable, based on the energetics and the new elementary steps reported herein. A supported Ir6 octahedron model for the Shell 405 Iridium catalyst used in thrusters was developed. Self-Consistent Field and electron correlation calculations (with core potentials and associated basis sets) find a rich chemistry for hydrazine on this catalyst model. The model catalyst provides dramatically lower NN and NH bond cleavage energies and an even smaller barrier to breaking the NH bond by NH2 abstractions. Thus, the low temperature decomposition over the catalyst is interpreted in terms of consecutive NH2 abstractions to produce ammonia and nitrogen. The higher temperature channel, which has hydrogen and nitrogen products, may be due to a mixture of two mechanisms. These two mechanisms are successive NH cleavages with surface H + H recombinations, and the same type of assisted H2 eliminations found to occur in the gas phase part of this study.

Keywords: Hydrazine; Gas Phase; Ir Catalyst; Quantum Chemistry

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