The goal of this study was to optimize the activation behaviour of hydrogen storage alloy TiFe. We found that the addition of a small amount of Zr in TiFe alloy greatly reduces the hydrogenation activation time. Two different procedural synthesis methods were applied: co-melt, where the TiFe was melted and afterward re-melted with the addition of Zr, and single-melt, where Ti, Fe and Zr were melted together in one single operation. The co-melted sample absorbed hydrogen at its maximum capacity in less than three hours without any pre-treatment. The single-melted alloy absorbed its maximum capacity in less than seven hours, also without pre-treatment. The reason for discrepancies between co-melt and single-melt alloys was found to be the different microstructure. The effect of air exposure was also investigated. We found that the air-exposed samples had the same maximum capacity as the argon protected samples but with a slightly longer incubation time, which is probably due to the presence of a dense surface oxide layer. Scanning electron microscopy revealed the presence of a rich Zr intergranular phase in the TiFe matrix, which is responsible for the enhanced hydrogenation properties of these Zr-doped TiFe alloys.
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