Chemical Affinity of Ag-Exchanged Zeolites for Efficient Hydrogen Isotope Separation

Linda Zhang, Toshiki Wulf, Florian Baum, Wolfgang Schmidt, Thomas Heine, Michael Hirscher

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3 Citations (Scopus)


We report an ion-exchanged zeolite as an excellent candidate for large-scale application in hydrogen isotope separation. Ag(I)-exchanged zeolite Y has been synthesized through a standard ion-exchange procedure. The D2/H2 separation performance has been systematically investigated via thermal desorption spectroscopy (TDS). Undercoordinated Ag+ in zeolite AgY acts as a strong adsorption site and adorbs preferentially the heavier isotopologue even above liquid nitrogen temperature. The highest D2/H2 selectivity of 10 is found at an exposure temperature of 90 K. Furthermore, the high Al content of the zeolite structure leads to a high density of Ag sites, resulting in a high gas uptake. In the framework, approximately one-third of the total physisorbed hydrogen isotopes are adsorbed on the Ag sites, corresponding to 3 mmol/g. A density functional theory (DFT) calculation reveals that the isotopologue-selective adsorption of hydrogen at Ag sites contributes to the outstanding hydrogen isotope separation, which has been directly observed through cryogenic thermal desorption spectroscopy. The overall performance of zeolite AgY, showing good selectivity combined with high gas uptake, is very promising for future technical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9413-9420
Number of pages8
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun 27

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
T.W. and T.H. thank the Center for Information Services and High-Performance Computing (ZIH) at TU Dresden for computational resources. T.W. and T.H. thank DFG for financial support within RTG 2721 “Hydrogen Isotopes”. The authors thank P. Losch for valuable discussion in the course of the research and J. Ternieden for XRD measurements (both MPI für Kohlenforschung). T.W. thanks the European Social Fund (ESF) for a Ph.D. fellowship.

Funding Information:
Open access funded by Max Planck Society.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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