Scientific Divisions / Center for Hydrogen Energy Technologies (18)
Center for Hydrogen Energy Technologies (18)
Dr. Darius Milčius
Breslaujos 3, LT-44403 Kaunas
Phone +370 (37) 40 19 09
Fax +370 (37) 35 12 71
FUSION Programme: Kick-Off Meeting Presentations 2004
Main research areas of the Center:
– research in the field of hydrogen energy technologies:
– synthesis of hydrogen separation membranes and analysis of their properties;
– synthesis and properties analysis of metals and their alloy hydrides designed for hydrogen storage;
– synthesis of hydrogen fuel cell elements: anodes, electrolytes and cathodes applying physical vapour deposition methods.
In 2012 a state subsidy funded project Synthesis and Property Analysis of Nano-crystalline Metal Hydrides, Designed for Energy Storage and Optical Devices was successfully completed. Basic issues restricting application of metal alloys is related with hydrogenation/dehydrogenation process. Presently widely used metal alloys, devoted for storage of hydrogen, are formed using chemical technologies. Hydrogen pressure of the extracted alloys during hydration process amounts for 10 MPa and dehydration occurs at 500°C.
The originality of this work is to identify the unstable conditions of uninvestigated magnesium alloys, where the materials effectively adsorb/desorb hydrogen. Non - equilibrium physical technologies are applied during which energy activation will be realized, developed by structure corpuscular particle flows (photons, electrons and ions), derived from plasma. The derived materials due to structural peculiarities (nanocrystalline or atmospheric structure, amount of defects, texture) are distinguished for unique adsorption/desorption properties and are real candidates to develop new generation hydrogen storage devices, to employ in batteries and switching optical mirrors.
A wide spectrum of experiments related with Mg-Ti, Mg-Ti-H, Ni-Mg-Ti-H and Mg-Al-H synthesis and analysis of properties was carried out. Magnetron vapour deposition method was used for the synthesis, whereas hydrogenation of the derived structures was performed using two technologies: equilibrium hydrogenation at high pressure and temperature and non-equilibrium hydrogenation process in low temperature plasma.
During synthesis, the Mg7TiH16 composition was successfully derived; it is widely used for hydrogen storage, optical devices and batteries. It is also shown that during Mg7TiH16 synthesis Pt and Pd may be successfully changed into Ni catalysts. The efficiency of LEI patented technology was approved, the hydrogenation of plasma activated Mg conducting at high hydrogen pressure and temperature. It is shown that the properties of substrates on which thin film structures are obtained have great influence on the extracted hydride properties (Fig.1).
During the implementation of the EU Structural Funds project Foundation of National Open Access Scientific Center for Future Energy Technologies, HITACHI S-3400N scanning electronic microscopy was bought and installed in LEI Center for Hydrogen Energy Technologies in 2012 (Fig.2). It is the highest-quality analytical equipment designed for the metal hydrides, used to store hydrogen and oxides, designed for analysing morphology of hydrogen fuel elements and extraction membrane surfaces and cross-sections. The device may be used for analysing thin coatings as well as powder samples. The results obtained with this device will enable to receive fundamental information on the structure, morphology, existence of surface/volumetric defects and structure of analysed samples. This device along with other devices of Center for Hydrogen Energy Technologies is foreseen to be employed in developing and investigating nanocrystalline materials designed for portable, space and transport hydrogen energy devices and systems.
In co-operation with lectors and students at Department of Physics of Vytautas Magnus University and Department of Physics of Kaunas University of Technology, the Center for Hydrogen Energy Technologies concentrates equipment necessary for investigations, allows researchers at Department of Physics of Vytautas Magnus University and Department of Physics of Kaunas University of Technology to use modern educational aids and prepare high-qualified specialists (including all study cycles) and develop competitive research. It is equally important that LEI has become a powerful centre of attraction for young researches.
Since 2012 the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) has been financing project Commercialism of Technologies Developed at the Center for Hydrogen Energy Technologies of Lithuanian Energy Institute (2012-08-13 N0 31V-137). With this objective the researchers of the center established JSC Inovatas, which is related to LEI with spin-off agreement.
Main objective of the project – to commercialize most valuable technologies developed at CHET. During the project the three technologies are analyzed.
The first technology – Hydrogenation method of metals and their alloys (LR patent No 5789; issued EPO proposal No 10478001.0 submitted on 29 06 2011). The project task related with this technology – to certify the developed technology. The possibilities study of international level devoted to potential investors, where basic advantages and challenges of the commercialized technology would be reflected, is to be prepared during the project. A demo device is to be developed where it would be possible to implement metal hydrogenation experiments using material amounts similar to the demands of real portable devices – thus demonstrating the operation principles of technology to potential investors.
The second technology – Method of Hydrogen Extraction from Water, Using Water Interaction with the Metals Activated in Plasma or Their Alloy Surfaces (LR patent proposal No 2012026, submitted on 03 04 2012). The main market for this technology – manufacturers of car industry and worldwide exploiters of unstable renewable energy systems (wind, sun). The basic tasks of the project is to prepare nanomaterials designed for hydrogen production, using ball milling and physical material deposition technologies and present this hydrogen production technology for major manufacturers of USA car industry and risk capital enterprises.
The third technology – presently new generation Ni-Zr-NB, Ni-Ti-Al, Ti-Al amorphous membranes, devoted to separation of hydrogen from hydrocarbons (natural gas, biogas, oil products, etc.) and alcohol, which are produced at CHET. These membranes are much cheaper than presently used Pt, Pd based membranes. The basic project tasks are to prepare and characterize the membranes, preparing them for the market and present the developed membranes for potential consumers.
In 2012, the researchers of the Center actively participated in International Energy Agency Hydrogen Implementation Agreement (IEA HIA) Task 22, Fundamental and Applied Hydrogen Storage Materials Development. In this activity, chemical destabilisation of metals and their alloy hydrides was carried out by introducing new elements into materials, which form intermediate derivatives during hydride decomposition and, thus not allowing the system to get fully relaxed to the lowest energy state, or form a destabilized hydride during hydrogenation.
Last year, the researchers of the Center published 3 articles in the publications on the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) list and presented 9 papers in international conferences.
Fig.1. SEM images of Mg-Ni coatings on Si substrates deposited on the primary (a and b) and processed with constant current sources (c and d) and impulse constant current source (e and f) generated plasma. Additionally, AJM profiles of samples are inserted in a, b, and c SEM images, their roughness parameters are identified (the analysis performed using different methods, thus the place of sample analysis does not coincide)
Fig. 2. Scanning electron microscope HITACHI S-3400N