Case Studies

Energy & Environment

Neutrons can be used for energy and environmental studies, as for instance:

  • Investigation of H2 storage materials, Li-ion batteries
  • Imaging water in fuel cell
  • Following-up of chemical reactions and phase changes, catalysis process, lubricant action on surfaces
  • Mechanical stress in industrial components, composites, metals, ceramics
  • Crystal structures from powders and mixed phases
  • Non-destructive trace element analysis

Please see a number of case studies below and download the PDF files to know more. For applications of neutrons in other industrial fields, please click here .

Characterisation of fuel cells and hydrogen storage materials and devices

Characterisation of fuel cells and hydrogen storage materials and devices

Characterisation of fuel cells and hydrogen storage materials and devices

Neutron characterisation techniques can:

  • – Show where H2 is flowing within a storage tank or a fuel cell.
  • – Show where and how H2 is fixed and released by storage materials.
  • – Investigate membrane materials and fuel cells in operation.

Here we show a number of case studies. Download PDF file.

Insight into electrolysis cells from Haldor Topsøe

Insight into electrolysis cells from Haldor Topsøe

Insight into electrolysis cells from Haldor Topsøe

Haldor Topsøe is a world leader in the development and manufacture of catalysts and the design of process plants for the chemical and petrochemical industries.

Neutron imaging is the most appropriate technique when it comes to penetrating centimeters of metal whilst maintaining sensitivity to hydrogenated materials (such as polymers, for example).

Haldor Topsøe therefore chose to perform neutron radiography and tomography investigations at the Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum in Germany. Their researchers were able to identify hitherto unknown features within the stack.

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Performances of Li-ion battery: investigating lithium ions movements

Performances of Li-ion battery: investigating lithium ions movements

Performances of Li-ion battery: investigating lithium ions movements

Neutron diffraction is an excellent technique for monitoring lithium ions moving through the electrodes, because neutrons are readily scattered by light elements such as lithium (unlike X-rays).

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Composite compounds for Hydrogen storage

Composite compounds for Hydrogen storage

Composite compounds for Hydrogen storage

Neutrons are very sensitive to light elements (Hydrogen, Lithium) and several experiments using neutrons have shed light on the decomposition (dehydrogenation) pathways for composite systems containing lithium. Changes in crystal structures and composition during these reactions’ progress were investigated with neutron diffraction.

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Water inside an operating fuel cell

Water inside an operating fuel cell

Water inside an operating fuel cell

Thanks to neutrons, it was demonstrated that the local water content in the membrane is not directly correlated to the water content in the surrounding channel.

Results from neutron measurements provide unique information that can be used to optimize the design of the next-generation of high performance fuel cells.

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Helping make hydrogen cars a reality

Helping make hydrogen cars a reality

Helping make hydrogen cars a reality

Measurements with neutrons provide new opportunities for the rational improvement of materials for use as storage for future hydrogen cars.

Neutrons scatter very strongly from hydrogen atoms but the Ti-Cr-V-Mo alloy developed by Toyota is almost totally invisible to neutrons. This meant neutron diffraction experiments could directly see the location of the hydrogen atoms within the solid.

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Characterization of hydrogen storage materials and systems with neutron radiography

Characterization of hydrogen storage materials and systems with neutron radiography

Characterization of hydrogen storage materials and systems with neutron radiography

Hydrogen tanks filled with metal hydride powder or pellets were investigated using Neutron Radiography (NR) and Neutron Computerised Tomography (NCT). Changes in the powder structure were characterized as well as the hydrogen distribution in the tank volume.

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Improved formulation for STEPAN surfactants

Improved formulation for STEPAN surfactants

Improved formulation for STEPAN surfactants

Stepan is one of the world’s largest producers of surfactants. In its quest for formulations tailored to customer requirements, the company needed to validate hypotheses developed on the microstructure of surfactants. Their questions could not all be answered using standard techniques.

The SANS measurements gave us indications on the self-assembly structure of our surfactants. We were able to distinguish between different structures, findings which challenged our knowledge to date. The time spent with the ILL scientist was invaluable.

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