Contact Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology
Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, Room 3606
University of Waterloo
200 University Ave. W.
Waterloo, ON. N2L 3G1
+1 519 888 4567, ext.38654
Research interests: nanostructured and amorphous materials for solid state hydrogen storage; nanostructure superconductors
Professor Robert Varin is a principal co-author of the book “Nanomaterials for Solid State Hydrogen Storage” published in 2009 by Springer Science&Business Media and so far, he has 143 refereed journal and 63 refereed conference papers to his credit.
Varin’s research is focused on nanomaterials for solid state hydrogen storage, with research activities encompassing grain boundary effects in polycrystals and relationships between microstructure, strength, ductility and fracture at low and high temperatures of intermetallic, metallic and non-metallic materials.
Varin obtained his MASc and PhD from the Warsaw University of Technology in Poland in 1972 and 1976, respectively. Before coming to Waterloo, he carried out research at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Varin joined the University of Waterloo’s Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1983 as a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. Varin’s many publications are extensively cited in international journals. He is a co-editor of seven conference proceedings and the recipient of a Silver Medal of Merit of the Military University of Technology in Warsaw, Poland.
- PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology, 1976
- MASc, Mechanical Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology, 1972
Mechano-chemical synthesis of nanomaterials
For the last few years, Professor Varin has been involved in the mechano-chemical synthesis of nanomaterials for solid state hydrogen storage. Metal and complex hydrides offer a safe alternative to storage in compressed or liquid form and they have the highest hydrogen volumetric densities. However, the major problem is that the metal/complex hydrides with large gravimetric densities of hydrogen exhibit relatively high temperature for hydrogen sorption/desorption which is incompatible with the waste heat generated by a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) or an alkaline fuel cell. Additional problems are sluggish kinetics, reversibility and high cost.
The role of nanomaterials
Professor Varin believes that nanomaterials play a crucial role in addressing all of these technology barriers. Storage of hydrogen in nano solid hydrides which absorb hydrogen like a sponge could meet industry requirements. However, before they become viable hydrogen storage materials, their hydrogen storage properties must be improved. Addition of nanometric-sized catalysts combined with the refinement of internal (grains) and external (particle) dimensions to the nanometric sizes can substantially improve hydrogen storage properties of solid hydrides. In particular, hydrogen desorption temperature of numerous hydrides could be lowered to be compatible with the requirements of a fuel cell stack.
Unique research equipment
In Professor Varin’s laboratory on Solid State Hydrogen Storage, a unique magneto-mill is used for the synthesis/processing of various nanostructured hydrides. In a collaborative research with Vale Inco Ltd., the catalytic properties of a nanometric nickel of filamentary and discreet form produced by Inco are being investigated for the improvement of absorption/desorption properties of nanostructured hydrides. In a collaborative research with the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine a unique amorphous nano-carbon material is added to complex metal hydrides. In a major breakthrough it has been found that both nanometric nickel and amorphous nano-carbon catalytic additives are able to reduce desorption temperature range of complex metal hydrides (alanates) to the 20-80C range required for a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell. This catalytic effect is thoroughly studied now and the results will be published soon. Professor Varin is a member of the Hydrogen Canada Strategic Network (H2CAN) which supports his research.
- Nanostructured and amorphous materials for solid state hydrogen storage
- MgB2-based nanostructured superconductors
- A.R. Shirani Bidabadi, A. Korinek, G.L. Botton, R.A. Varin “High resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and X-ray diffraction studies of nanocrystalline manganese borohydride (Mn(BH4)2) after mechano-chemical synthesis and thermal dehydrogenation”, Acta Materialia 100 (2015) 392-400.
- R.A. Varin, A.R. Shirani Bidabadi, “Rapid, ambient temperature hydrogen generation from the solid state Li-B-Fe-H system by mechano-chemical activation synthesis”, Journal of Power Sources 284 (2015) 554-565.
- R.A. Varin, A.R. Shirani Bidabadi, “Nanostructured, complex hydride systems for hydrogen generation”, AIMS Energy 3 (2015) 121-143.
- S. Atashin, J. Z. Wen, R.A. Varin, “Investigation of milling energy input on structural variations of processed olivine powders for CO2sequestration”, Journal of Alloys and Compounds 618 (2015) 555-561.
- R.A. Varin, R. Parviz, M. Polanski, Z.S. Wronski, “The effects of milling energy input and molar ratio on the dehydrogenation and thermal conductivity of the (LiNH2+nMgH2) (n=0.5, 0.7, 0.9, 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0) nanocomposites”, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 39 (2014) 10585-10599.
- “The effects of ball milling and nanometric nickel additive on the hydrogen desorption from lithium borohydride and manganese chloride (3LiBH4+MnCl2) mixture”, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 35, 2010
- “The effects of ball milling and molar ratio of LiH on the hydrogen storage properties of nanocrystalline lithium amide and lithium hydride (LiNH2+LiH) system”, Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 491, 2010
- “Thermal stability of Vale Inco nanometric nickel as a catalytic additive for magnesium hydride (MgH2)”,International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 34, 2009
- “Synthesis of nanocomposite hydrides for solid state hydrogen storage by controlled mechanical milling techniques”, Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 483, 2009
- “Particle size, grain size and γ-MgH2 effects on the desorption properties of nanocrystalline commercial magnesium hydride (MgH2) processed by controlled mechanical milling”, Nanotechnology, 17, 2006
Office: ERC 2007
Phone: 519-888-4567, ext.32170