Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, 2017-10-19

"Fundamental investigation of reaction pathways for hydrogen sorption in selected borohydrides for hydrogen storage"

Michael Heere / Early Stage Researcher at the Institutt for Energiteknikk in Kjeller, Norway

Working title of thesis

Fundamental investigation of reaction pathways for hydrogen sorption in selected borohydrides for hydrogen storage.


The specific topic of the PhD project will be to obtain detailed understanding of the hydrogen absorption and desorption processes in borohydrides and so-called reactive hydride composites (RHC) using a variety of experimental techniques.

Tasks and methodology

The first material to consider will be Mg(BH4)2. The decomposition path of Mg(BH4)2 is not well understood despite numerous investigations. A challenging aspect is that some decomposition products are non-crystalline (i.e. amorphous or nano-crystalline) which makes it virtually impossible to characterize them with diffraction techniques. As a PhD student I will thus perform in-situ synchrotron powder X-ray diffraction measurements of the decomposition of Mg(BH4)2 with a known amount of silicon added as an internal standard. Quantitative phase analysis by Rietveld refinements will reveal the amounts of material that are in a crystalline and that are in a non-crystalline state during the different states of decomposition.


Short CV

Born and raised in the east part of Germany, I started my career as an officer in the Federal Armed Forces of Germany (Bundeswehr). I studied mechanical engineering and finished my studies (B.Sc. & M.Sc.) within four years in 2011, after I spent six months at the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) in Norway to write my Master’s thesis. In the following years, I worked in industry as an engineer at the research and development department of Volkswagen AG.
The opportunity to conduct research in hydrogen storage led me back to IFE as PhD fellow in Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) ECOSTORE in 2014. The position as an early stage researcher gave me the opportunity to work at and visit many laboratories all over the world, to present my results on international conferences (Japan, USA, Switzerland) and to establish new collaborations.
During the secondments of my PhD I gained knowledge in wet chemistry techniques at Aarhus University, or I learned about in-situ Raman techniques during my stay at the University of Birmingham. Furthermore, I conducted numerous in-situ powder diffraction experiments during six visits at the Swiss Norwegian Beam Line at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble, France. Furthermore, the ECOSTORE network gave me the opportunity to present my results on a regular basis at least every six month and gave me training in soft skills like key concepts of negotiations, project management or an introduction to personality types.
The new project I am working on is called ERWIN, which is an acronym and stands for the “energy research with neutrons”. I will contribute to this project as I am employed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) while working at the research reactor in Munich (FRMII). Further Information can be found under https://www.frm2.tum.de/en/home/