HANDLE WITH CARE - HUNGRY (AND HOT) PALLADIUM!
Working in LFH'S lab this afternoon preparing quite a large batch of experimental fuel, I began to weigh out components into a plastic beaker. First, 10 grams of Hydrogenated 20 micron Nickel powder, then 2.5 gr of LiAlH4, o.5gr of nano Li and finally, since I am interested in the effects of heterogenous catalyst activity in Ni?h systems, I added half a gram of Palladium Black. Palladium Black is 99.9% pure Palladium - micron sized. It is a 'Class A' hydrogenation catalyst. I dropped this directly onto the top of the LiAlH4/Li in the beaker powder in the beaker.
The result was almost instant combustion. I can only assume that the Palladium started Grabbing the Hydrogen from the LiAlH$ - which is an exothermic process. This extra heat dissociated more of the LiAlH4 and created even more heat. Then, within a couple of seconds things got hot enough to ignite the Hydrogen. This produced a bit of a fizz and a modest flame - rather like that which might be produced by setting fire to a box of safety matches.
Not being a stranger to the odd 'chemical event' and noticing that the beaker was starting to melt I picked up the scales complete with melting beaker and tipped the flaming mass off onto the concrete floor, where it fizzed and spluttered for a moment more. You can see 'before' and 'after' pictures below. No harm done. I opened all the doors and windows and left the place to air for a while.
But this is the moral of this tale. Never add Palladium Black to anything with a Hydrogen donor in it - like LiAlH4. II tried a second time, where this time the LiAlH4 (25%) was thoroughly mixed with the Nickel - same result.