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Hydrogen-Permeable Membranes team

The team Hydrogen Permeable Membranes develops ceramic membranes able to transport Hydrogen, either in protonic (H+) or molecular form (H2) by means of selected materials and advanced fabrication techniques. Depending on the structural arrangements on atomistic- and micro- scale, including the presence of point defects or porosity and structural voids, the transport of the desired species across a dense or a microporous membrane is governed respectively by lattice diffusion of protons often associated with polaron hopping of electrons or by molecular sieving and selective absorption.

Hydrogen-permeable membrane

These different transport mechanisms, the chemical nature of the selected membrane materials, but also the process conditions open various application areas ranging from separation tasks (extraction of highly pure H2 from gas mixtures) to accomplishing complex chemical reactions in membrane reactors with participation of e.g. H2 and CO2 or N2 to form bio-fuels, higher hydrocarbons, or respectively ammonia. Apart from the H2 separation performed both by dense and microporous membranes under different operation conditions, another highly pursued in the last few years and industrially driven separation task for microporous membranes is also at focus, namely the CO2/N2 separation from the flue gas of post-combustion power plants. In addition to that, the team develops microporous membranes for dehydration of alcohols via pervaporation, or both dense and microporous membranes for catalytic decomposition of H2 containing compounds.

Dense ceramic hydrogen permeable membranes can serve as solid oxide electrolytes for i) intermediate temperature proton ceramic fuel cells (PCFC) and ii) separation membrane for e.g. H2 extraction from gas mixtures and in membrane reactors. The functioning of such devices depends critically on the intrinsic materials properties as ionic and/or electronic conductivity, catalytic activity, chemical and mechanical stability, as well as on the ability to manufacture a suitable microstructure (gas-tight membranes 5-20 μm thick, on porous supports giving mechanical stability but allowing for gas diffusion).

Material properties can be modified or newly developed by following different strategies as doping/substitution and cer-cer or cer-met composite formation. The selection of materials covers several structural classes, ranging from well proven conventional choices as zirconates and cerates with perovskite structure, as well as novel own patented compositions as the rare earth tungstates with defective fluorite structure. As especially successful was proven the formation of cer-cer composite membrane achieving nearly 1 ml/min.cm2 at 700°C and demonstrating stability of about 700h under H2 containing atmospheres at temperatures as high as 1000°C.

Such membranes needs to be fabricated with sufficiently large areas e.g. 10x10 cm2, close to the final application size in fuel cells and membrane reactors and at acceptable cost. Bridging the gap between ceramic lab scale samples and large-area supported membranes is decisive to bring materials with optimized structural and functional properties from lab scale into actual application.

Microporous membranes based on silicon dioxide exhibit excellent H2/CO2 or H2/N2 separation capabilities. By introducing stable mesoporous ZrO2 intermediate layers, the stability was improved in moist atmospheres, while retaining good separation characteristics. This type of membrane is used in industry (Pervatech) for pervaporation processes, for example for dehydrating alcohols.

Microporous gas separation membranes usually have a graded structure, i.e. a substrate with relatively large pores is the starting point, and successive layers with finer particles are applied to it. The membrane layer deposited on this carrier structure is only a few nanometres thick.

Fabrication methods: Tape casting, screen printing, sol-gel technology, spin/dip coating, PS-PVD

Hydrogen Permeable Membranes team
Abteilungsleiter Gastrennmembrane Dr. Wilhelm Albert Meulenberg
Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Albert Meulenberg
Head of Department
Phone: +49 2461 61-6323
Team Wasserstoffpermeable Membrane: Henny Bouwmeester
Prof. Dr. Henny Bouwmeester
Scientific employee
Phone: +49 2461 61-6712
Arbeitsgruppe Gastrennmembranen: Wendelin Deibert
Dr. Wendelin Deibert
Scientific employee
Phone: +49 2461 61-8968
Arbeitsgruppe Gastrennmembranen: Dr. Tim Van Gestel
Dr. Tim Van Gestel
Scientific employee
Phone: +49 2461 61-5334
Arbeitsgruppe Gastrennmembranen: Kai Wilkner
Kai Wilkner
PhD student
Phone: +49 2461 61-96768
Team Wasserstoffpermeable Membrane: Sabrina Goncalves de Macedo Carvalho
Sabrina Goncalves de Macedo Carvalho
Visiting scientist


Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK-1)
Materials Synthesis and Processing

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
52428 Jülich