A computational and experimental study of anhydrous phosphotungstic acid and its interaction with water molecules

Michael J. Janik, Kimberly A. Campbell, Billy B. Bardin, Robert J. Davis, Matthew Neurock

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101 Scopus citations


The hydration state of phosphotungstic acid (H3PW 12O40) was explored through the use of in situ Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, water sorption microcalorimetry, and density functional theory (DFT) quantum chemical calculations. In addition, the proton affinities of the various sites on the Keggin unit were evaluated. The small differences (< 10 kJ mol-1) between the proton affinities of bridge and terminal oxygen atoms indicate that protons likely reside on both types of sites on the Keggin unit. Vibrational spectra calculated by DFT and measured experimentally by in situ FT-IR spectroscopy compare very well. The adsorption energy of a water molecule on an anhydrous Keggin unit was calculated to be approximately -55 to -70 kJ mol-1 for the formation of H3O+, independent of protonic site. The range compares well to the heat of water sorption (-65 kJ mol-1) determined from microcalorimetry on a sample dehydrated at 573 K. The uptake of gaseous water molecules was found to be five times higher on a sample pretreated at 473K than on one pretreated at 573 K, indicating that the hydrated secondary structure does not reform after the high temperature pretreatment. In situ FT-IR spectroscopy confirms the lack of reversibility during dehydration/rehydration treatment for samples heated to 573 K.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-68
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Catalysis A: General
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 30 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NSF grant CTS-0124333. The authors would also like to acknowledge Dr. Michael Palmer for helpful discussions.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Acid catalyst
  • Ammonia microcalorimetry
  • DFT
  • Density functional theory
  • Heteropolyacid
  • In situ FT-IR spectroscopy
  • Keggin
  • Phosphotungstic
  • Proton affinity
  • Tungsten
  • Water microcalorimetry


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