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Materials Research

versão impressa ISSN 1516-1439versão On-line ISSN 1980-5373

Mat. Res. vol.22 no.1 São Carlos  2019  Epub 06-Dez-2018

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1980-5373-mr-2018-0458 

Articles

Hydrogen Storage Properties and Reactive Mechanism of LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H Composite

Liu Yanga 

Shixin Zhaoa 

Dongming Liua  * 
http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4530-9530

Yongtao Lia 

Tingzhi Sia 
http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6412-6169

aSchool of Materials Science and Engineering, Anhui University of Technology, Maanshan, Anhui 243002, P. R. China

ABSTRACT

The Mg10YNi alloy was hydrogenated and then coupled with LiBH4 to form LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H reactive hydride composite. The results indicate that thermal dehydrogenation stability of LiBH4 can be remarkably reduced by combining with Mg10YNi hydride. The starting and ending temperatures for hydrogen desorption from the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite are approximately 275 and 430 ºC, respectively. Dehydrogenation of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite proceeds mainly in two steps with a total reaction of 12LiBH4 + 2.5Mg10YNiH20 → 24Mg + MgNi2.5B2 + 2.5YB4 + 12LiH + 43H2. After rehydrogenation at 450 ºC under 9 MPa hydrogen pressure, the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite starts to release hydrogen around 260 ºC, and as much as approximately 5.2 wt.% of hydrogen can be desorbed during the second dehydrogenation process.

Keywords: Lithium borohydride; Reactive hydride composite; Hydrogen storage property; Reactive mechanism

1. Introduction

The increasing consumption of fossil fuels makes it urgent to develop new energy carriers, in which hydrogen shows great promise as an ideal alternative due to its high calorific value, clean burning products and abundant resources. For safely storing hydrogen with high efficiency, solid-state hydrogen storage materials have been intensively studied during the last several decades1-6. Among them, LiBH4 has a theoretical hydrogen capacity as high as 13.8 wt.% through decomposition into LiH and B. However, the practical application of LiBH4 is strongly limited by its high dehydrogenation temperature, sluggish dehydrogenation process and rigorous rehydrogenation conditions7,8. To overcome these deficiencies, various approaches such as catalyst addition9-11, cation/anion substitution12-14 and nano-confinement15-17 have been developed and utilized.

Another effective way that has also been used to improve the hydrogen storage properties of LiBH4 is the construction of reactive hydride composites18-38. The primary strategy of this method is to combine LiBH4 with a reactive hydride destabilizer, thus reducing the overall dehydrogenation enthalpy and enhancing the rehydrogenation ability via the change in de-/hydrogenation pathway. The LiBH4/MgH2 (2:1) composite, as a typical example, was reported to release hydrogen with an enthalpy lowered by 25 kJ/mol H2 with respect to the pristine LiBH4 according to the altered reaction of 2LiBH4 + MgH2 → MgB2 + 2LiH + 4H2. In addition, the formation of MgB2 upon dehydrogenation can make rehydrogenation easier to proceed by overcoming the chemical inertness of pure B18. Following this work, other binary metal hydrides (e.g., CaH219, SrH220, AlH321, YH322, CeH223 and NdH2+ x 24), single metal (e.g. Al25 and Ni26), and complex hydrides (e.g. LiAlH427, NaAlH428, Li3AlH629, Mg(AlH4)230, LiNH231 and NaNH232) were also used to combine with LiBH4 to form reactive hydride composites.

Considering that better de-/hydrogenation properties of LiBH4 might be obtained by simultaneously introducing two kinds of destabilizing components, the LiBH4/Mg-X (X = Al, Fe, Ni or La) alloy hydride composites were developed and investigated33-37. For example, Zhou et al.37 introduced the hydrogenated La2Mg17 alloy into LiBH4 by means of mechanochemical reaction under 40 bar hydrogen pressure and provided a synergetic thermodynamic and kinetic destabilization on the de/hydrogenation of LiBH4 via the in situ formed MgH2 and LaH3. In our previous work38, we prepared a reactive hydride composite of LiBH4/Mg11CeNi hydride and improve the dehydrogenation property of LiBH4 based on the combined destabilizing effect of Mg, Mg2Ni and CeH2. In order to enrich such an effect and further promote the development of LiBH4-based hydrogen storage materials, the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite was prepared to investigate its reversible hydrogen storage property and reactive mechanism in this paper.

2. Experimental Details

2.1 Sample preparation

Commercial LiBH4 powder (95%, Alfa Aesar), Mg ribbon (90+%, Alfa Aesar), Ni foil (99.994%, Alfa Aesar) and Y ingot (99.9%, Alfa Aesar) were used as-received. The Mg x YNi (x = 4, 10 and 12) alloys were prepared by induction melting of appropriate amounts of Mg, Y and Ni metals under argon atmosphere. In order to compensate the losses of Mg and Y during melting, extra 18 wt.% of Mg and 3 wt.% of Y were added on the basis of stoichiometric amounts of starting materials, and the alloys were remelted two times to ensure homogeneity. After melting, the as-cast alloys were mechanically crushed into powders of 300 mesh and then subjected for hydrogen absorption/desorption. The LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite was prepared by ball-milling the mixture of LiBH4 and Mg10YNi hydride with a 24:5 molar ratio under 0.5 MPa hydrogen pressure at a rotation speed of 400 rpm for 2 h using a QM-3SP2 planetary mill. Stainless steel vials (250 mL in volume) and balls (10 mm in diameter) were used. The ball to sample weight ratio was 30:1. To avoid air-exposure, all sample handling was carried out in an Ar-filled glove box equipped with a purification system, in which the typical O2/H2O levels are below 1 ppm.

2.2 Sample characterization

Hydrogen absorption/desorption properties of the samples were examined using a carefully calibrated Sieverts-type apparatus (Suzuki Shokan Co., Ltd., Japan). For the Mg-Y-Ni alloys, the powder samples were activated by two hydrogen absorption/desorption cycles. During each cycle, the samples were hydrogenated at 300 ºC under 4 MPa hydrogen pressure for 2 h and subsequently evacuated for 1 h. After activation, isothermal hydrogenation was performed at 300 ºC under the initial hydrogen pressure of 4 MPa. For the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite, the temperature dependence of dehydrogenation was determined by heating the sample from ambient temperature to 500 ºC at the heating rate of 2 ºC/min under ~0.1 MPa hydrogen backpressure. Rehydrogenation of the samples was carried out at 450 ºC for 10 h under an initial hydrogen pressure of 6 or 9 MPa.

X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements were performed using a Rigaku D/Max 2500VL/PC diffractometer with Cu Kα radiation at 50 kV and 150 mA. The XRD samples were loaded and sealed in a special holder that can keep the sample under argon atmosphere. In addition, the XRD pattern of the dehydrogenated product was analyzed with the Rietveld refinement program RIETAN-200039. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra were collected at ambient conditions using a Nicolet 6700 FTIR spectrometer. The FTIR samples were prepared by cold pressing the mixture of testing powder and KBr with a 1:300 weight ratio.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1 Hydrogenation characteristics of Mg-Y-Ni alloys

Fig.1gives the isothermal hydrogenation curves of the Mg x YNi (x = 4, 10 and 12) alloys after two hydrogen absorption/desorption cycles. It is observed that the hydrogenation reaction of the Mg4YNi alloy is kinetically fast, with less than 40 min needed to complete the hydrogenation process. However, the saturated hydrogenation amount for the Mg4YNi alloy is only approximately 3.4 wt.% because of a relative low Mg content. For the Mg12YNi alloy, though a higher hydrogenation amount can be obtained, the hydrogenation process cannot be finished within 160 min due to the inadequate catalytic effect of YH2/YH3 and Mg2Ni (or Mg2NiH4) nanoparticles embedded in MgH2 matrix40,41. In contrast, the Mg10YNi alloy can absorb as much as approximately 4.8 wt.% of hydrogen and accomplish the hydrogenation process within 100 min, exhibiting the best comprehensive property in terms of the hydrogenation amount and relative hydrogenation rate.

Figure 1 Isothermal hydrogenation curves of the Mg x YNi (x = 4, 10 and 12) alloys after two hydrogen absorption/desorption cycles (the samples were hydrogenated at 300 °C under 4 MPa hydrogen pressure for 2 h and subsequently evacuated for 1 h). 

To clarify the hydrogenation mechanism, the XRD patterns of the Mg10YNi alloy as-cast and hydrogenated are shown in Fig. 2, indicating that the as-cast Mg10YNi alloy contains Mg, Mg2Ni and MgY2Ni2, while the hydrogenated sample is composed of MgH2, Mg2NiH4, YH3 and little amount of YH2. It can be superficially concluded that the Mg10YNi alloy reacted with H2 to form MgH2, Mg2NiH4, YH3 and YH2, which is similar to other Mg-rich and Mg-RE-Ni alloys40-43. According to the hydrogenation amount of approximately 4.8 wt.% experimentally obtained, the hydrogen gas absorbed can be calculated to be 20 equivalents per Mg10YNi.

Figure 2 XRD patterns of the Mg10YNi alloy as-cast (a) and hydrogenated (b).  

3.2 Thermal dehydrogenation properties of LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite

The above hydrogenated Mg10YNi alloy was applied to couple with LiBH4, and Fig. 3 gives the temperature-programmed dehydrogenation curve for the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite. For comparison, the hydrogen desorption curve of pristine LiBH4 is also included in Fig. 3. It can be seen that thermal dehydrogenation of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite starts around 275 ºC and proceeds mainly in two steps. The first step occurs in the temperature range from 275 to 350 ºC, and releases approximately 4.1 wt.% of hydrogen. The second step starts following the first one and finishes at approximately 430 ºC, with approximately 2.3 wt.% of hydrogen desorbed. In contrast, the pristine LiBH4 starts to release detectable hydrogen at temperatures as high as 350 ºC, and only approximately 1.6 wt.% of hydrogen was desorbed when heating to 450 ºC. These results indicate that dehydrogenation stability of LiBH4 can be remarkably reduced by combining with Mg10YNi hydride.

Figure 3 Temperature-programmed dehydrogenation curves of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite and pristine LiBH4

As reported in our previous work30, thermal dehydrogenation of the LiBH4/MgH2 (2:1) composite initiates at approximately 340 ºC and cannot be accomplished even though the temperature rose to 550 ºC. For the LiBH4/YH3 (4:1) composite44, as low as approximately 0.7 wt.% of hydrogen was desorbed at 350 ºC for 10 h under 0.1 MPa hydrogen backpressure. For the LiBH4/Mg2NiH4 (4:5) composite35, thermal dehydrogenation ends at approximately 450 ºC, with approximately 5.7 wt.% of hydrogen released. There can be no doubt that the present LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite exhibits lower dehydrogenation temperature and/or higher dehydrogenation amount than the individually MgH2-, YH3- or Mg2NiH4-coupled LiBH4.

3.3 Dehydrogenation reactions of LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite

To elucidate the dehydrogenation reactive mechanism of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite, Figs. 4 and 5 present the XRD patterns and FTIR spectra of the samples after ball-milling and dehydrogenation at 350 and 450 ºC, respectively. As seen from Fig. 4a, the phases MgH2, Mg2NiH4, YH3 and YH2 are present in the as-milled sample. Though LiBH4 is not found in XRD data due to its relatively low content and/or amorphization by ball milling, the obvious signature bands for the B-H bond vibrations located at 2362, 2293, 2225 and 1126 cm-1 in Fig. 5a confirm its existence. The results suggest that no obvious reactions occurred between the starting materials during ball milling. When heating the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite to 350 ºC, as shown in Figs. 4b and 5b, MgH2 and Mg2NiH4 almost disappeared with the emergence of Mg and Mg2Ni. In addition, the phase content of YH2 is enhanced. Evidently, the first-step dehydrogenation for the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite should be assigned to the decomposition of MgH2 and Mg2NiH4 to form Mg and Mg2Ni, respectively. Meanwhile, partial YH3 decomposed into YH2. Upon further increasing the dehydrogenation temperature to 450 ºC, the diffraction peaks arising form Mg2Ni, YH3 and YH2 disappeared, and the solid residues are composed of Mg, MgNi2.5B2, YB4 and LiH (see Fig. 4c). Moreover, almost no FTIR bands for the B-H bond vibrations can be observed in Fig. 5c, strongly implying that LiBH4 was completely decomposed. To further confirm these existing phase components, the XRD pattern in Fig. 4c was refined by the Rietveld method. It can be seen from Fig. 6 that the diffraction pattern calculated from the structure models of the phases Mg, MgNi2.5B2, YB4 and LiH is in good agreement with the measured pattern.

Figure 4 XRD patterns of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite as-milled (a) and dehydrogenated at 350 (b) and 450 °C (c), respectively. 

Figure 5 FTIR spectra of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite as-milled (a) and dehydrogenated at 350 (b) and 450 °C (c), respectively. 

Figure 6 Rietveld refinement of the XRD pattern for the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite dehydrogenated at 450 (C. The vertical bars (from above) indicate the positions of Bragg diffraction for Mg, MgNi2.5B2, YB4 and LiH, respectively. (The reliability factors for refinement are R wp = 8.96%, R p = 6.42% and S = 2.38) 

It is believed that the second-step dehydrogenation for the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite should come from the decomposition of LiBH4 that was reactively destabilized by Mg, Mg2Ni, YH3 and YH2 together. The total dehydrogenation reaction can be expressed as:

12LiBH4+2.5Mg10YNiH2024Mg+MgNi2.5B2+2.5YB4+12LiH+43H2 (1)

According to this reaction, the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite should theoretically release 6.7 wt.% of hydrogen. This estimated value is in good agreement with the measured value of 6.4 wt.% as indicated in Fig. 3. For the present case, Mg formed during the first-step dehydrogenation process can act as the heterogeneous nucleation center for the second-step dehydrogenation37,38.

3.4 Rehydrogenation characteristics of LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite

For the purpose to evaluate the rehydrogenation property of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite, the dehydrogenated sample was subjected to rehydrogenation at 450 ºC under different hydrogen pressures (6 and 9 MPa, respectively), and then the second temperature-programmed dehydrogenation curves were measured. It is indicated from Fig. 7 that the rehydrogenation pressure has an important effect on the rehydrogenation and subsequent second dehydrogenation properties. For the sample rehydrogenated under 6 MPa hydrogen pressure, only approximately 4.2 wt.% of hydrogen was desorbed during the second dehydrogenation process, with an onset dehydrogenation temperature of approximately 290 ºC. In contrast, the sample rehydrogenated under 9 MPa hydrogen pressure starts to release hydrogen around 260 ºC, with as much as approximately 5.2 wt.% of hydrogen desorbed.

Figure 7 Second dehydrogenation curves of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite rehydrogenated at 450 ºC under 6 and 9 MPa hydrogen pressures, respectively.  

Figs. 8 and 9 give the XRD patterns and FTIR spectra of the rehydrogenated samples, respectively. As shown in Fig. 8a, MgH2 and YH3 were regenerated after rehydrogenation under 6 MPa hydrogen pressure. Increasing the rehydrogenation pressure to 9 MPa, as indicated in Fig. 8b, LiBH4 and Mg2NiH4 were reformed with an enhancement of the relative contents of MgH2 and YH3. It can be seen from Fig. 9 that the FTIR bands for the B-H bond vibrations are present, demonstrating the regeneration of LiBH4. In addition, the relatively higher intensity of FTIR bands in Fig. 9b than in Fig. 9a suggests a higher hydrogenation degree of the sample under 9 MPa hydrogen pressure. These results clearly show that reaction (1) can proceed reversibly under the present rehydrogenation conditions. Moreover, a higher rehydrogenation pressure is helpful to increase the hydrogen storage reversibility, which is consistent with the results obtained from Fig. 7.

Figure 8 XRD patterns of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite after rehydrogenation. 

Figure 9 FTIR spectra of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite after rehydrogenation. 

4. Conclusions

The hydrogen storage properties and reactive mechanism of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite were investigated. It was found that the Mg10YNi hydride shows a strong destabilization effect on LiBH4, and that the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite exhibits lower dehydrogenation temperature and/or higher dehydrogenation amount than the individually MgH2-, YH3- or Mg2NiH4-coupled LiBH4. Dehydrogenation of the LiBH4/Mg10YNi-H composite proceeds mainly in two steps: one comes from the decomposition of MgH2, Mg2NiH4 and partial YH3, and the other can be assigned to the decomposition of LiBH4 destabilized by Mg, Mg2Ni, YH3 and YH2 together. After rehydrogenation at 450 ºC under 9 MPa hydrogen pressure, LiBH4, MgH2, Mg2NiH4 and YH3 were regenerated, and as much as approximately 5.2 wt.% of hydrogen can be released during the second dehydrogenation process with an onset temperature of approximately 260 ºC.

5. Acknowledgments

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. U1503192 and 51371008) and the Key Project of Outstanding Young Talents in Universities of Anhui Province (No. gxyqZD2016067).

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Received: July 02, 2018; Revised: 10, 2018; Accepted: October 25, 2018

*e-mail: ldm_ahut@163.com

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