AbstractReactive hydride composites (RHCs) are very promising hydrogen storage materials for future applications due to their reduced reaction enthalpies and high gravimetric capacities. At present, the materials' functionality is limited by the reaction kinetics. A significant positive influence can be observed with addition of transition-metal-based additives. To understand the effect of these additives, the chemical state and changes during the reaction as well as the microstructural distribution were investigated using x-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy and anomalous small-angle x-ray scattering (ASAXS). In this work, zirconium- and vanadium-based additives were added to 2LiBH4–MgH2 composites and 2LiH–MgB2 composites and measured in the vicinity of the corresponding absorption edge. The measurements reveal the formation of finely distributed zirconium diboride and vanadium-based nanoparticles. The potential mechanisms for the observed influence on the reaction kinetics are discussed.