Metal and complex hydrides offer very promising prospects for hydrogen storage that reach the DOE targets for 2015. However, slow sorption kinetics and high release temperature must be addressed to make automotive applications feasible. Reducing the enthalpy of formation by destabilizing the hydride reduces the heat released during the hydrogenation phase and conversely allows desorption at a lower temperature. High-energy ball milling has been shown to decrease the release temperature, increase reaction kinetics and lower the enthalpy of formation in certain cases. Increased surface and grain boundary energy could play a role in reducing the enthalpy of formation, but the predicted magnitude is too small to account for experimental observations. As the particle and grain sizes are reduced considerably under high-energy treatments, structural defects and deformations are introduced. These regions can be characterized by an excess volume due to deformations in the lattice structure, and have a significant effect on the material properties of the hydride. We propose a thermodynamic model that characterizes the excess energy present in the deformed regions to explain the change in physical properties of metal hydrides. An experimental investigation using the TEM to study the effect of lattice deformations and other nanostructures on the desorption process is underway.

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