Influence of surface contaminations on the hydrogen storage behaviour of metal hydride alloys

Schülke, Mark; Paulus, Hubert; Lammers, Martin; Kiss, Gábor; Réti, Ferenc; Müller, Karl-Heinz
March 2008
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Mar2008, Vol. 390 Issue 6, p1495
Academic Journal
Hydrogen storage in metal hydrides is a promising alternative to common storage methods. The surface of a metal hydride plays an important part in the absorption of hydrogen, since important partial reaction steps take place here. The development of surface contaminations and their influence on hydrogen absorption is examined by means of absorption experiments and surface analysis, using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), thermal desorption mass spectrometry (TDMS) and secondary neutral mass spectrometry (SNMS), in this work. All investigations were carried out on a modern AB2 metal hydride alloy, namely Ti0.96Zr0.04Mn1.43V0.45Fe0.08. Surface analysis (SNMS, XPS) shows that long-term air storage (several months) leads to oxide layers about 15 nm thick, with complete oxidation of all main alloy components. By means of in situ oxygen exposure at room temperature and XPS analysis, it can be shown that an oxygen dose of about 100 Langmuirs produces an oxide layer comparable to that after air storage. Manganese enrichment (segregation) is also clearly observed and is theoretically described here. This oxide layer hinders hydrogen absorption, so an activation procedure is necessary in order to use the full capacity of the metal hydride. This procedure consists of heating ( T = 120° C) in vacuum and hydrogen flushing at pressures like p = 18 bar. During the activation process the alloy is pulverized to particles of ∼20 μm through lattice stretches. It is shown that this pulverization of the metal hydride (creating clean surface) during hydrogen flushing is essential for complete activation of the material. Re-activation of powder contaminated by small doses of air ( p ≈ 0.1 bar) does not lead to full absorption capacity. In ultrahigh vacuum, hydrogen is only taken up by the alloy after sputtering of the surface (which is done in order to remove oxide layers from it), thus creating adsorption sites for the hydrogen. This is shown by TDMS measurements with and without sputtering and oxygen exposure. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]


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