Specific Objectives of the Project
The various phases involved in the reaction have to be identified and monitored during the sorption process. Furthermore, it is mandatory to perform various sorption experiments to describe the sorption kinetics as a function of hydrogen pressure and temperature and its dependence on preparation (morphology, impurities, dopants, catalysts). The measurement of thermodynamic properties will deliver the energies involved in the processes. The optimization of the preparation methods will provide valuable information for the mass production of hydrogen storage materials.
To understand and improve the important reaction steps, model systems will be used to cross-link physical effects with sorption properties. As an example it was suggested that the polarization of hydrogen in the particular compound might determine the reaction mechanism during desorption of imides. However, to prove this hypothesis, the electronic state of hydrogen and its evolution during the hydrogenation process has to be known and cross-linked to the sorption kinetics. Similar ideas exist for phase formation, nucleation and diffusion processes. The cross-linkage will be achieved by using the network’s multidisciplinary expertise in micro-structural characterisation, the measurement of physical properties like crystal structure, optical and electronic properties and experiments at the European synchrotron facilities (ESRF, DESY) and Neutron Scattering (ILL, HZG@FRM II). In most cases, real-life systems show a very complex behaviour, which makes its decoding down to elementary steps difficult. Model systems can support the decoding of those real-life systems as they reduce the number of possibly involved processes. In particular the thin film approach embarks on this strategy. Using thin films has the advantage that one can probe and modify the surface using well-established surface science techniques.
Ab-initio calculations of stable and hypothetical structures will help and to simulate the underlying reaction mechanisms. This will give feedback to experiment. In particular, the rational design of catalysts from fundamental principles has the potential to greatly improve the kinetics of hydrogen storage systems.
Finally, it is objective to transform the thus harvested knowledge into technology ready for use in applications. For this, synthesis methods for the mass production of hydrogen storage materials will be explored and optimized in close collaboration with industrial partners.
This Network proposes to bring together collective multidisciplinary expertise in the EU to investigate these fundamental mechanisms and to further progress towards cost-effective applications. Successful implementation of this proposal will contribute to sustained growth as older energy technologies in the EU become more costly due to impending mandatory limitations on emission of pollutants, increasing oil prices and the strategic problems of dependence on largely non-European sources of energy. Apart from targeting the storage problem, it is the fundamental issue of this project to train young researchers in future technologies like materials science and nanotechnology. In particular, the interdisciplinary character of science is emphasized as hydrogen storage research lies at the interface of physics, chemistry and engineering.