Aluminum Boride As an Electrocatalytic Catalyst

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aluminum boride, with its crystalline structure and unique physical properties, is an important material in many industries. It is used for manufacturing aluminum-magnesium borode alloys (AlMgB), high-speed steels, superconductors, and high-temperature ceramics. It is also used in the production of high-alumina clinkers, which are then used for making cements and concretes. Moreover, it is also an important raw material for the production of two-dimensional (2D) metal carbides and nitrides known as MXenes.

The synthesis of aluminum boride is a complex process that involves aluminothermal reduction of boric anhydride under high temperatures to form an ingot-like mass and a slag-like residue. This method has a low efficiency and requires considerable time for the preparation of the ingots, which leads to large losses and wastes. Therefore, it is important to find effective methods of obtaining boride powder with the highest possible yield of alloy ingots and a minimal amount of slag waste.

Using the self-propagating high-temperature synthesis (SHS) technology, we have developed a method for obtaining metallurgical-quality aluminum boride from hard-to-reduce oxides. The selection of the right fluxing additives allows for a high degree of separation of the target component and slag-like waste. Additionally, the addition of fluoride salts as an activator increases the rate of the aluminothermal reaction.

The results of our research show that molybdenum aluminum boride single crystals (MoAlB SCs) as layered ternary borides were successfully applied as electrocatalytic N2 reduction (NRR) catalysts in alkaline media. Due to the strong interaction between Al/B band and N orbitals, as well as the special crystal structure exposing more active sites, MoAlB SCs displayed excellent electrocatalytic performance with a low overpotential at ambient conditions.