Project title: “Fabrication and functionalization of nanostructured metallic foams for energy storage applications”


Project type: European project – M-ERA.NET


The project aims at fabricating highly porous nanostructured metallic foams for application as redox electrodes for asymmetric supercapacitors and as catalytic surfaces for hydrogen production.

The NANOFOAM project covers the design and production of 3D nanofoams, its functionalization, characterization and testing.

The metallic foams, with controlled porosity and tailored chemical composition, will be produced by electrodeposition, a low cost and simple route, on stainless steel substrates, which withstand chemical stability, good conductivity and corrosion resistance. The 3D nanostructured foams, after proper functionalization, tailored for each specific target, are expected to work as multi-target materials suitable for different application in energy systems.

The metallic foams composed of transition metals such as nickel and copper and foams of Ni and other transition elements alloys, will be produced and functionalised to optimise their electrochemical response and to enhance efficiency when used as electrodes for energy storage devices: redox supercapacitors electrodes or electrodes for the electrochemical production of hydrogen via electrolysis of water and hydrolysis of borohydride solutions. For supercapacitor electrodes, functionalization foresees formation of oxides and hydroxides of transition metals and/or composites with carbon. This strategy combines a high surface area with the electroactivity of transition metal oxides that undergo various oxidation states. Composites with carbon combine the best of the double layer with extra redox pseudocapacitance. The result will be new materials with enhanced specific capacitance and long term cycling stability.

Concerning hydrogen production, through water electrolysis or borohydride hydrolysis, functionalization aims at increasing the catalytic efficiency through the modification of the foams with tailored electroactive species such as Pd/Pt clusters, Ni hydroxides, Polypyrrole, or CoB thin layers. The functional materials will be characterised using the most advanced techniques and the most suitable electrochemical tools.

The expected results are a new multi-target material produced by a low cost route that can be easily tailored for electrodes to be applied in redox supercapacitors or as catalytic surface in hydrogen production. This constitutes an innovative achievement, at our best knowledge not attempted before. This strategy will allow to decrease materials production cost, facilitating scale-up, while contributing to find novel and more efficient materials for energy storage.

The project outcomes can produce disruptive knowledge, beyond the state-of-art and advancing the technical approach towards the implementation of the Materials roadmap enabling low carbon energy technologies. The project clearly fits the SET Plan Materials roadmap by addressing: Substitution of traditional carbon type materials and development of pseudo-capacitors (redox-based) by use of metal oxides; Development of hybrid capacitors composed of one electrochemical electrode and one battery electrode in aqueous media for low cost and low environmental impact system; the development of low-cost and novel materials that can be used as catalysts for H2 production/storage, with increased efficiency and corrosion resistant. The team gathers multidisciplinary skills and all the facilities to successful implement and develop the work plan, by delivering the expected outcomes.