Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, 2018-02-22

Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt, Dübendorf, Switzerland (Empa)


Empa is a fully independent public research institution with about 800 employees, concentrating on the five strategic R+D programmes Nanotechnology, Adaptive Materials and Systems, Technosphere& Atmosphere, Healthy Human and Materials for Energy Technologies. The Laboratory 138, “Hydrogen & Energy” at Empa, addresses scientific questions and technological problems from hydrogen synthesis, hydrogen in solids to hydrogen as an energy carrier as well as applications like catalytic combustion of hydrogen, batteries and supercaps.

Empa’s experience ranges from hydrogen sorption in metals, hydrogen in metallic nano-clusters, crystal structure analysis of complex hydrides, hydrogen adsorption on carbonous nanostructures, and electrochemical hydrogen sorption in intermetallic compounds to p-element complex hydrides. We develop instruments for the specific investigation of hydrides, e.g. PCT-apparatus, and sensors, and we have demonstrated several solid hydrogen storage systems.

The search for practical hydrogen storage materials is accompanied by the investigation of model systems, in particular hydride thin films. During the past 10 years, EMPA has been involved in the development and characterisation of advanced ceramic components for SOFCs and SOECs in National and European projects. The competences cover the synthesis of specific perovskites, ceramic processing for cell production and advanced characterisation techniques. Empa is a member of the New European Research Grouping on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen, N.ERGHY.

In BOR4STORE Empa will focus on materials preparation (WP1), scale-up and cost effective synthesis (WP4), on thermodynamic, kinetic and structural characterization (WP1), with particular focus on gas sorption analysis.

Further information


Key personnel

Prof. Dr. Andreas Züttel

An internationally recognized expert in solid state hydrogen storage and nanomaterials, Head of the Laboratory “Hydrogen and Energy” at Empa and Professor of Physics at the University of Fribourg and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Prof. Züttel scientific focus is the structure and thermodynamic properties of hydrides as well as energy conversion and storage in general.

Dr. Andreas Borgschulte

Is an expert in surface sciences and low dimensional hydrides (thin films and clusters). He was Post Doc in Condensed Matter Physics, VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Project co-ordinator of the hydrogen storage project FuncHy, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Germany. He is leader of the group “Stability and kinetics” in the section “Hydrogen & Energy” at Empa.

Experimental facilities

High energy ball mills, reactive milling, dynamic PCT-apparatus, Sievert’s apparatus for N2 adsorption (BET-analysis) and H2, DSC, Magnetic suspension balance up to 200 bars coupled to FTIR gas analysis and mass spectrometer, X-ray Diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectrometer.

Selected publications

  • R. Gremaud, A. Borgschulte, O. Friedrichs, and A. Züttel,  Synthesis Mechanism of Alkali Boron hydrides by Heterolytic Diborane Splitting, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2011, 115 (5), pp 2489–2496.
  • S. Kato, M. Bielmann, K. Ikeda, S.-I. Orimo, A. Borgschulte, and A. Züttel, Surface changes on AlH3 during the hydrogen desorption, Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 051912 (2010).
  • A. Züttel, A. Borgschulte, and S. I. Orimo, Tetrahydroborates as new hydrogen storage materials, Scripta Materialia, 56 (2007) 823–828.
  • L. Schlapbach and A. Züttel, Hydrogen-storage materials for mobile applications, Nature 414 (15 Nov. 2001), pp. 353-358.
BOR4STORE related publications