Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, 2017-10-19

"Nanoconfined borohydrides with optimised scaffolds and pore sizes for hydrogen storage"

Filippo Peru / Early Stage Researcher at the National Center For Scientific Research "Demokritos", Athens, Greece

Working title of thesis

Development of novel carbon / complex hydrides nanocomposites for hydrogen storage applications.


The present thesis will pursue to contribute to the intense international research efforts towards the gradual transition to a hydrogen-powered society. In particular, the thesis work will focus on one of the most challenging topics, i.e. the materials-based hydrogen storage. In the field of the solid state hydrogen storage, the use of complex hydrides (in particular boron hydrides and mixtures of light metal hydrides) appears as one of the most promising routes. It has been shown that the reduction of the particle size of these materials to the nanoscale can improve their unfavorable kinetic and thermodynamic properties. Nanosizing can be greatly facilitated by the infiltration of hydrides within a nanoporous scaffold, since such approaches offer the possibility to modulate the particle size of the hydride material (based on the pore size of the host) and at the same time avoid aggregation effects. However the actual interplay between the scaffold and different kind of hydrides is still not fully understood. It is therefore necessary to study how the nanoconfinement of the active hydride phase influences the respective hydrogen sorption / desorption and cyclability properties.In this context the primary aim of the thesis is to understand (a) how the hydrogen storage properties of complex boron hydrides develop when these are infiltrated in different, mainly mesoporous (e.g. carbon) scaffolds with varying pore networks (in terms of pore size, volume and distribution), (b) how the hydride phase interacts with the scaffold material, and (c) how it is possible to achieve materials optimization and upscaled synthesis.

Tasks and methodology

The technical work will mainly include (a) the development of an extensive series of carbon micro-/meso- porous hosts (CMK-1, CMK-3, mesocellular carbon foams, carbon aerogels etc.), as well as the thorough characterization of their properties using a wide range of advanced techniques, (b) the development / identification of efficient methods for the infiltration of different complex hydrides and their mixtures into the carbon materials, and (c) the assessment of the structural and hydrogen storage properties of the new composite systems.

Short CV

Filippo Peru was born in Sassari, Italy in 1989. He studied at the Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy of the Università degli Studi di Sassari where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree Thesis (2011) in Chemistry and his Master’s Degree Thesis (2014) in Chemical Sciences.

During his studies he worked on the investigation of highly-ordered mesoporous materials based on silica, carbon and metal oxides for hydrogen storage and as electrodes for ORR in PEMFCs. His activities included: (a) the synthesis of mesoporous scaffolds using solvothermal, hard templating and EISA approaches, (b) the confinement in inert atmosphere of boron hydrides via wet chemistry into mesoporous materials, (c) the structural characterization of the materials (by N2 adsorption/desorption measurements, X-ray diffraction), (d) hydrogen storage volumetric measurements (using a Sievert-type apparatus). In addition he has worked on the synthesis of mesoporous new composite materials based on carbon-nitrogen-iron for oxygen activation in PENFCs via pyrolysis and wet chemistry methods.

Currently he works as ECOSTORE ESR fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos” in Athens, Greece, under the supervision of Theodore Steriotis.