Institute for advanced energy technologies "Nicola Giordano" (ITAE)


The Institute of Advanced Energy Technologies "Nicola Giordano" (ITAE) of Messina was founded in 2001 and receives the heritage of the Institute of Chemical Methods and Processes for Transformation and Storage of Energy that was founded in 1980.
The role of ITAE in the energy sector mainly consists in the development of innovative, highly efficient and low pollutant technologies and processes; the inherent research activities span from materials synthesis to manufacturing of devices. In the fuel cells sector, CNR-ITAE has attained and international leadership; its contribution to the development and diffusion of fuel cells technology at industrial level is widely recognized. In 1984 CNR-ITAE unveiled the first Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell station in Europe in the framework of a cooperation program with the Institute of Gas Technology of Chicago. Afterwards (1989), a 1 kW PAFC stack was designed, realised and tested for 3000 hours; in 1993, a 150 W tubular SOFC stack was also tested and characterized. Likewise, a long experience has been gained in low temperature Fuel Cells (PEFCs, DMFCs); activities have been addressed to the development of components (catalysts, electrodes, membranes), as well as to the realization of the complete systems (cells and stacks). In the framework of the 1994/99 POP Sicily project, a technology transfer operation took shape in an electrode production pilot plant based on proprietary procedure.
ITAE has also participated to the national program for the realization of the first fuel cell-powered Italian car, the 600 Elettra H2 by FIAT.
Under the guidance of the former Director, prof. Nicola Giordano (Full professor of Industrial Chemistry at the University of Messina), ITAE matured a significant expertise in catalysis; this resulted in the development of new catalysts for the production of eco-compatible fuels and hydrogen to be used in both stationary and mobile energy applications, in the general framework of the so-called "Hydrogen Economy".
Other important research fields of ITAE are the storage and the rational use of energy; in this regard, new materials and adsorption processes for heat pumps technology and heat/electric energy/hydrogen storage systems have been developed.
The most part of ITAE's R&D activity is funded by several national and international research agencies (EU, MIUR, ENEA, CNR) as well as by industries and SMEs (Ansaldo, Eniricerche, Nuvera Fuel Cells, De Nora, Pirelli, Ausimont, etc.)
Hundreds of publications in international literature and participations to congress are an evidence of the consolidated leadership of ITAE; according to the Georgia University, Technology Policy & Assessment Center Report, 2003, ITAE is placed fourth amongst research institutions and industries working in FCs examined between 1993 and 2003 and four ITAE researchers are between the first 20 to the world for citation number.
The staff (researchers, technicians, administrative) amounts to 52 units, plus other 15 people (PhD, scholarship, training).
The headquarters are placed in a 4800 square meter building, including personnel offices, laboratories, library, conference hall, cafeteria and guestrooms.
The available scientific equipment includes: SEM-EDX, XRD, XRF, DSC/IG/DTA, BET, Hg Porosimeter, Electrochemistry (potentiostatic, galvanostatic, potentiodynamic ), Complex impedance, Heat conductivity, Heat microbalance, Elemental analysis (CHNOS), Fuel cells test fixtures, Catalytic microreactors, Hydrogen generators, Heat pumps test stations.
Historically, the institute is organized in multidisciplinary groups. Every research group develops activity in one or more CNR departmental projects. The names and the acronyms of the groups usually derive from their initial research activity and from the activities that they currently develop.
- Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells and Hydrogen storage - PEFC
- Thermally driven Heat Pumps - STI
- Electrochemical processes for the energy conversion - PCE
- Production of alternative fuelss - GTL
- Systems for the energetic technologies - SYS
- Studies and design - SP
- Catalytic technologies and processes for hydrogen production - FP
- Production of syn-gas from industry waste products - ByPC

The institute is provided with 19 laboratories positioned to the low ground of the building.

Lab.1 - X-Ray Spectroscopy (XRD, XRF, XPS)
Lab.2 - Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
Lab.3 - Electrocatalysts Preparation
Lab.4 - Development of catalysts for the hydrogen production from traditional and alternative fuels
Lab.5 - Development of prototypes for the hydrogen production from traditional and alternative fuels
Lab.6 - Laboratory for the electrochemical storage and advanced Materials
Lab.7 - Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC)
Lab.8 - Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)
Lab.9 - Materials for the selective transport and hydrogen storage
Lab.10 - Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells (PEFC)
Lab.11 - Thermally driven Heat Pumps (STI)
Lab.12 - Adsorbent materials (STI)
Lab.13 - Alternative clean fuels production (GTL)
Lab.14 - Syn-gas from industry and agrarian waste products (ByPC)
Lab.15 - Fuels pre-treatment and catalysts synthesis (ByPC)
Lab.16 - Chemical/physical characterization of materials
Lab.18 - Direct alchool fuel cells (DAFC), PEM electrolyser, solar cells
Lab.19 - Energetic systems engineering

From 2006 the CNR-ITAE is involved in an ambitious project for the realization of a new "Centre for the promotion of the innovation and the energetic technologies transfer ". Its mission consists in a "Testing Centre" for the study of hydrogen technologies. It find application in the sector of energy production for land and naval transport.
The aim of this project is to create a tool of technical and scientific support in the field of innovative energetic production. The building area covered surface of 2000 m2. Three halls will be well equipped for technical training, several laboratories for scientific equipments and nine mobile laboratories for test stations.
The "Test Stations" are able to characterize different typology of innovative energetic systems:
o polymeric fuel cells 12 to 50 kW.
o 50 kW power out hydrogen generator from gaseous or liquid fuels.
o hydrogen storage systems.
o electrolyser using renewable energy sources.
o high temperature fuel cells.
o trigeneration systems up to 50 kW power

The objective of the project is to implement a research centre capable of organizing and encouraging relationship between potential users and manufacturers of new technologies which are being commercialized thanks to the supply of a "testing" service of new systems and staff training , in such a way as to facilitate new technologies entering the market.
Moreover, this project is aimed at increasing technology transfer initiatives in order to boost the creation of a new energy technology pole, also linked to the ship propulsion, with consequent falls in industrial production at local, regional and Southern Italian level.

The realization of this project has been made possible through the economic support of:
o Ministero Ambiente e Tutela del Territorio e del Mare
o Assessorato Industria Regione Siciliana
o Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche.