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Addressing Thermodynamic Inefficiencies of Hydrogen Storage in Transition Metal Hydrides


Weadock, Nicholas Joseph (2019) Addressing Thermodynamic Inefficiencies of Hydrogen Storage in Transition Metal Hydrides. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/ANY4-VA70.


Transition metal hydrides (MH) are an attractive class of materials for several energy technologies. Primary benefits include their large volumetric storage capacity (often exceeding that of liquid hydrogen) and capability to absorb and desorb hydrogen for hundreds of cycles. In this thesis, we set out to understand two of the thermodynamic inefficiencies of MH: the pressure hysteresis associated with hydrogen absorption and desorption and the corrosion and dissolution of high capacity MH alloys in high pH electrolyte environments.

The volume change associated with hydriding transitions can exceed 10%, and a macroscopic nucleation barrier resulting from coherency strains has been proposed as the origin of the pressure hysteresis. We investigated this hypothesis for the palladium-hydrogen system. The hysteresis and phase transformation characteristics of bulk and nanocrystalline PdH were characterized with coupled in situ X-ray diffraction and pressure composition isotherm measurements. Size effects are observed in the total hydrogen uptake and hydrogen solubility in the hydride phases. Experimentally determined hysteresis energies were found to be comparable to the misfit strain between the Pd and PdH phases and much larger than the energy for dislocation formation. Theoretical predictions of pressure hysteresis overestimate the experimentally measured hysteresis, and we suggest methods of accommodation which could explain the discrepancy. Finally, we propose that an effect of the nucleation barrier is to split the coherent spinodal phase diagram and introduce directionally dependent phase boundaries.

We report a successful development of Ti29V62-xNi9Crx (x = 0, 6, 12) body-centered cubic (BCC) MH electrodes for MH batteries by addressing vanadium corrosion and dissolution in potassium hydroxide electrolytes. The effectiveness of a limited oxygen environment and vanadate ion addition against corrosion are compared to the effects of Cr substitution. By identifying oxygen as the primary source of corrosion and eliminating oxygen with an Ar-purged cell, the Cr-free alloy electrode achieved a maximum capacity of 594 mAh/g, double the capacity of commercial AB5 MH electrodes. With modified coin cells suppressing oxygen evolution, the cycle stability of the Ti29V62Ni9 alloy electrode was greatly improved with either vanadate ion additions to the electrolyte or Cr-substitution in the alloy. Both approaches lead to reversible capacity of 500 mAh/g for 200 cycles.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Metal hydrides, batteries, hysteresis, X-ray diffraction
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Materials Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Fultz, Brent T.
Thesis Committee:
  • Faber, Katherine T. (chair)
  • Johnson, William Lewis
  • See, Kimberly
  • Fultz, Brent T.
Defense Date:22 January 2019
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0001057
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:02112019-143327096
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DocumentArticle adapted for Chapter 3.
Weadock, Nicholas Joseph0000-0002-1178-7641
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11390
Deposited By: Nicholas Weadock
Deposited On:20 Feb 2019 20:36
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:24

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