Ni-ferrite with structural stability for solar thermochemical H2O/CO2 splitting


At present, the quest for alternative green energy sources is being steered by the punitive side effects of excessive use of carbon-based energy sources. The cheapest yet most logical solution to this problem is the adoption of renewable energy sources and increased energy conversion. Solar energy is the largest exploitable renewable resource, however, the efficient conversion of solar energy into chemical energy poses a challenge. Over the years, researchers have discovered that concentrated solar energy can be economically employed to power the two step redox thermochemical splitting cycles, which utilize water and / or carbon dioxide as the reactants for the production of exploitable fuels i.e. hydrogen and or carbon monoxide. Recent studies have revealed that specific pairs of ferrites, such as those of nickel and cobalt, can be employed. Unfortunately, this process is effective only at very high temperature which in no time melts the oxides utilized, thereby reducing the available reaction specific area hence diminishing the activity of the redox pair. Fortunately, enhanced performance for the desired reactions can be achieved if the ferrites are dispersed on highly thermostable materials.

To this note, a team of researchers led by Dr. Lori Nalbandian from the Chemical Process and Energy Resources Institute at Center for Research and Technology Hellas in Greece prepared nickel-based ferrite samples with improved thermal stability, which conserve sufficient porosity and surface area after extensive high temperature treatment and multiple redox cycles, by combining the beneficial effects of adding zirconia and pore forming agents. Their work is currently published in International journal of hydrogen energy.

Briefly, the research method employed commenced by addition of zirconia to the Ni-Ferrite samples. Subsequently, the research team added different concentrations of different sacrificial materials (polyethylene glycol and carbon black) so as to create a high porosity. They then studied the effects of the zirconia and pore former agent concentrations on the porosity and the activity of the samples during redox cycles. Eventually, the porosity retention as well as the activity of the best of the prepared samples were compared to the corresponding porosity and activity of pure Ni-Ferrite samples prepared by the same methods, without the addition of zirconia and sacrificial materials.

After physicochemical characterization and activity evaluation of the prepared samples, the authors of this paper mainly observed that the highest thermal stability and conservation of porosity were obtained with 20% by weight of carbon black and zirconia content 10-30% by weight. In addition, they noted that the pores of samples that were prepared with addition of carbon black had both high volume and smaller diameters, thus enhanced activity.

The study has successfully presented the synthesis of porous Ni-Ferrite materials with improved thermal stability at temperatures up to 1450 0C using a conventional ceramic processing route. To this end, the work has proven that the samples with the highest porosity and optimum pore size distribution have the highest capability to reversibly deliver and pick up their lattice oxygen.

Ni-ferrite with structural stability for solar thermochemical H2O/CO2 splitting. Advances in Engineering

About the author

Mrs Ioanna Teknetzi received her Diploma in Chemical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), in Greece, with specialization in Materials Science – Nanotechnology. During her Diploma thesis she worked at the Laboratory of Inorganic Materials at CPERI/CERTH, and conducted research about the effect of the addition of pore forming agents in the porosity and structural stability of nickel ferrite, during the water splitting reaction.

About the author

Mrs Paraskeyi Nessi is a Chemical Engineer and is currently working as a research assistant at the Laboratory of Process Systems Design and Implementation of CPERI / CERTH. She received her Diploma from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), in Greece, with specialization in Materials Science – Nanotechnology and her MSc in “Processes & Advanced Materials Technology”, also from AUTH. During her Diploma thesis she worked at the Laboratory of Inorganic Materials at CPERI/CERTH and her research concerned the effect of the addition of different pore forming agents in the porosity of nickel ferrite.

About the author

Prof. Vassilis Zaspalis is a Professor of Materials science and engineering at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and at the same time the Director of the Laboratory of Inorganic Materials at CPERI/CERTH. He received his PhD in Material Science from the University of Twente in Netherlands.

His research interests include synthesis, characterization and advanced applications of polycrystalline ceramic systems, electronic ceramics, technical ceramics and ceramic (porous or non-porous) membranes. He is the leading researcher in many industrial projects towards the development of new magnetic materials, technology transfer and implementation on an industrial scale.


About the author

Dr. Lori Nalbandian is a Principal Researcher at the Laboratory of Inorganic Materials at the Chemical Process and Energy Resources Institute (CPERI) of the Centre for Research and Technology-Hellas (CERTH), in Thessaloniki, Greece. She received her PhD from the University of Patras in Greece. She has extensive experience in structural, chemical and morphological characterization of materials with advanced methods and deep knowledge of the basic principles of the development of new materials with predetermined properties.

Her research interests are in the area of materials and more specifically on synthesis and physicochemical characterization of magnetic nanoparticles and ceramic materials with tailored properties. Target applications currently studied are development of suitable oxygen carriers for energy production with inherent CO2 sequestration and hydrogen production through the development and optimization of oxides for mixed ion and electron conducting membranes.


Teknetzi, P. Nessi, V. Zaspalis, L. Nalbandian. Ni-ferrite with structural stability for solar thermochemical H2O/CO2 splitting. International journal of hydrogen energy, volume 42 (2017) page 26231-26242


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