Direct determination of equilibrium potentials for hydrogen oxidation/production by open circuit potential measurements in acetonitrile

Inorg Chem. 2013 Apr 1;52(7):3823-35. doi: 10.1021/ic302461q. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


Open circuit potentials were measured for acetonitrile solutions of a variety of acids and their conjugate bases under 1 atm H2. Acids examined were triethylammonium, dimethylformamidium, 2,6-dichloroanilinium, 4-cyanoanilinium, 4-bromoanilinium, and 4-anisidinium salts. These potentials, along with the pKa values of the acids, establish the value of the standard hydrogen electrode (SHE) potential in acetonitrile as -0.028(4) V vs the ferrocenium/ferrocene couple. Dimethylformamidium forms homoconjugates and other aggregates with dimethylformamide; open circuit potentials (OCPs) were used to quantify the extent of these reactions. Overpotentials for electrocatalytic hydrogen production and oxidation were determined from open circuit potentials and voltammograms of acidic or basic catalyst solutions under H2. For these solutions, agreement between OCP values and potentials calculated using the Nernst equation is within 12 mV. Use of the measured equilibrium potential allows direct comparison of catalytic systems in different media; it requires neither pKa values, homoconjugation constants, nor the SHE potential.