Steam reforming of ethanol is a promising route for the production of high purity hydrogen. Ni impregnated zirconia, with high chemical and thermal stability and high water adsorption-dissociation capability is an attractive catalyst for this reaction. In the present study, mesoporous zirconia and high surface area zirconia/silicate structured materials, such as Zr-SBA-15 and Zr-MCM-41, were synthesized following hydrothermal routes, using different surfactants as the structure directing templates. Surface area values of Ni impregnated mesoporous Zr-SBA-15 and Zr-MCM-41 catalysts with molar Zr/Si ratios of 0.13 and 0.45 were 515 and 338 m(2)/g, respectively. Ethanol reforming tests performed with these catalysts, in the temperature range of 550-650 degrees C, proved the potential of these materials to achieve very high hydrogen yields, over 90% of the maximum yield value of 6 mol per mole of ethanol reacted. Type of support material, Ni distribution and cluster size over the catalyst, reaction temperature and steam to ethanol ratio were found to have strong influence on coke formation and stability of hydrogen yield. Copyright (C) 2014, Hydrogen Energy Publications, LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.