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Hydrogen Absorbing Alloys


Development of Production Technology of New Cheap Hydrogen Accumulating Alloys Without Rare Earth Metals for Ecologically Pure Hydrogen Energy

Tech Area / Field

  • MAT-ALL/High Performance Metals and Alloys/Materials
  • CHE-IND/Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering/Chemistry

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Moscow State University, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • All-Russian Institute of Light Alloys, Russia, Moscow


  • Metaux Inoxydables Ouvres, France, Paris

Project summary


Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for ecologically pure energy. Metal-hydride technologies, based on reversible "absorption-desorption" of hydrogen are widely used for storage, transport, purification of hydrogen, its recovery from gaseous mixtures, in electrochemical fuel cells and also in nuclear energy, powder metallurgy, heterogeneous catalysis, for preparation of magnetic materials. The use of hydrides in industrial technological processes is closely connected with a set of fundamental and practical problems. Fundamental studies, in first place, are aimed on the investigation of peculiarities of hydrogen interaction with alloys and intermetallic compounds of various compositions and structure types, determination of thermodynamic, structural and kinetic data for development of new materials and evaluation of hydride stability.

Realization of scientific formulations is impossible without development of production technology of hydrogen absorbing alloys and creation of their production base. Especially important is the development of production technology of hydrogen absorbing alloys, based on FeTi and Ti,Zr(Mn,Cr,Fe,V,Ni)2. This is stipulated by the fact that, the industrial scale method of their preparation is the least developed, as well as by the economic considerations that the cost of these alloys is well lower than that of LaNi5 and MmNi5 type alloys, which are mostly used in present, and the hydrogen capacity is 20-30% higher. In the frames of the proposed project the production technology will be developed for the alloys, which can find application in such fields of hydrogen energy and metal hydride technology as hydrogen accumulation and transport systems, hydrogen accumulation systems for vehicular applications, hydrogen accumulation systems for installations for transformation of solar and wind energy, Ni-MH-battery electrode production for electrochemical fuel cells.

Basing on the scientific background of MSU the investigation of properties of materials to be used in the pilot technology will carried out, new effective alloys will be developed and optimal compositions, providing their applicability in various energy and metal-hydride devices, will be selected.

The melting technology for LaNi5- and MmNi5-type in graphite crucibles is not applicable for alloys of FeTi- and Ti,Zr(Mn,Cr,Fe,V,Ni)2 type, since the components of these alloys, unlike nickel, actively interact with graphite leading to saturation of liquid metal with poisonous graphite and to quick destruction of crucible. For melting of alloys, containing such active components as titanium and zirconium, induction furnaces with so-called cold crucible (VIFCC) can be used, in which chemical reaction with crucible, composed of a set of water-cooled sections, is excluded. The obvious advantage of VIFCC is the absence of chemical interaction and consequent loss of components. This fact lightens the production of alloys in strict range of compositions, which is almost obligative condition of preservation of high working characteristics. Still, the smelting in cold crucible is connected with increased expense of electric power.

More economic and having wide incidence for obtaining homogeneous high temperature melt is the induction furnace with ceramic (rammed or as cast) crucible. The experience of project participants in preparation of Ti,Zr(Mn,Cr,Fe,V,Ni)2 alloys in VILS vacuum induction furnace with magnesite crucible shows that even in this device, especially using the crucibles with more thermodynamically stable oxides, compared to MgO, it is possible to obtain alloys with properties close enough to those of laboratory samples, prepared in more sterile conditions.

Project implementation stages:

1. Literature survey on titanium intermetallic compounds (IMC), their properties and methods of production.

2. Physico-chemical study of IMC-H2 systems and selection of alloys rare-earth metal free and having maximum hydrogen capacity.
3. Laboratory studies (smelting, study of properties) and determination of optimal alloy compositions.
4. Preparation of equipment for alloy production in pilot conditions: preparation and testing of vacuum furnace with magnesite crucible, manufacturing and testing of as cast magnesium oxide and zirconium oxide crucibles. Renovation of existing vacuum induction furnace with installation of cold crucible and test meetings.
5. Market analysis of the furnace-charge materials, procurement of furnace-charge and study of influence of their quality on alloys properties.
6. Preparation of pilot batches of alloys. Determination of allowable range of component concentration deviations and admixture presence. Issue of Technological Documentation (TD) for smelting and Technical Conditions (TC) for chemical composition of alloys.
7. Development of ingot crushing technology in inert atmosphere and methods of storage of alloy powder. Issue of TC for alloy powder.
8. Development of utilization methods for waste (slag, metal) forming while smelting and alloy processing (gristing, screening).
9. Testing and evaluation of application effectiveness of developed alloys for vehicles, in electrochemical fuel cells and/or other field of hydrogen energy.
10. Evaluation of feasibility of developed technology and working-out of recommendations for setting of mass large-scale alloy production of hydrogen storing alloys.

KEYWORDS: hydrogen, intermetallic compounds, hydrides, vacuum induction furnace, vacuum induction smelting.

Expected results:

– new effective hydrogen absorbing alloys for hydrogen energy and metal-hydride technology, more hydrogen capacious and less expensive than LaNi5- and MmNi5-type;

– wide range pressure and temperature parameters of hydrogen interaction with titanium-based IMC of various composition;
– production technology for hydrogen storing alloys based on FeTi and Ti,Zr(Mn,Cr,Fe,V,Ni)2;
– pilot production alloy samples and their physico-chemical properties;
– evaluation results of application effectiveness of developed alloys for vehicular and/or other hydrogen energy use;

In the frames of the proposed project following scientific and technical tasks will be resolved:

– alloys for hydrogen energy and metal-hydride technology will be selected. PCT-dependences for these IMCs will be studied in order to optimize their composition. In case of use of IMC in hydrogen storage and accumulation systems the stability against the decomposition to components of IMC in "absorption-desorption" cycles should be determined;

– the allowable range of alloy component concentration deviations will be determined, which do not influence the exploitative properties and allow to perform their smelting in pilot conditions;
– the smelting parameters in inert and ceramic crucibles for FeTi- and Ti,Zr(Mn,Cr,Fe,V,Ni)2–type alloys will determined and the influence of the method and smelting conditions, furnace-charge material quality on the accuracy of reproduction of preassigned composition, alloy purity (content of oxygen, nitrogen and other);
– the optimal technology, allowing to produce alloys of preassigned composition and quality with minimal price;
– the technical (TC) and technological (TD) documentation will be worked out, regulating the pilot production of alloys of FeTi- and Ti,Zr(Mn,Cr,Fe,V,Ni)2–type;
– pilot batches of hydrogen storing alloys will be produced and tested. Basing on test results the optimized technical solutions for technology will be worked out;
– recommendations for organization of mass large scale production of hydrogen storing alloys will be formulated.

Institutions, which can be interested in the results of the proposed project:

– branches of industry, using hydrogen or hydrogen containing media;

– institutions involved in development of perspective energy devices of alternative energy transformation;
– implementators of materials for storage and accumulation of high purity hydrogen, including hydrogen energy and transport systems of ecologically pure fuel for vehicular applications;
– institutions involved in development of materials for electrochemical fuel cells;
– institutions involved in fundamental research of metal-hydrogen systems;
– institutions involved in development of technology and production of alloys of highly active metals.

Proposed studies and elaborations will be mainly performed by scientists and engineers, who were previously involved in weapon technologies. Now the VILS staff, participating in the proposed project have large experience in the exploitation of laboratory and industrial equipment for vacuum smelting and metal processing, in metallurgical studies. The staff of MSU High Pressure Chemistry and Physics Department have large experience in research of metal-hydrogen systems in a wide range of pressure and temperature and in the development of hydrogen absorbing alloys.

This Project fully corresponds the ISTC aims:

– this is a brand-new scientific and technical elaboration with a perspective of its use in many fields of industry;

– the results of this Project possess the commercial potential and will undoubtedly serve to the development of market economy;
– Project is aimed on the conversion of technical and industrial potential of VILS from weapon to civil research;
– Project countenances the long-term involvement of weapon specialists in world-wide scientific community.

The assignees of international community can take part in the research of effective hydrogen absorbing alloys and investigation of their interaction with hydrogen. The results of the development of the production technology and testing of obtained samples will allow to determine the end users, who will be adjusted after marketing.