The invention provides thin, hydrogen-permeable, sulfur-resistant membranes formed from palladium or palladium-alloy coatings on porous, ceramic or metal supports. Also disclosed are methods of making these membranes via sequential electroless plating techniques, wherein the method of making the membrane includes decomposing any organic ligands present on the substrate, reducing the palladium crystallites on the substrate to reduced palladium crystallites, depositing a film of palladium metal on the substrate and then depositing a second, gold film on the palladium film. These two metal films are then annealed at a temperature between about 200.degree. C. and about 1200.degree. C. to form a sulfur-resistant, composite PdAu alloy membrane.
This invention was made with Government support under grant number DE-FG26-03NT41792 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (from the University Coal Research Program, grant number DE-FG03-93ER14363 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and grant number W56HZV-06-C-0077 awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense. The Government has certain rights in this invention.