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Slash energy consumption with this steam reformer reactor

By Gerald Ondrey |

Steam reforming of methane into hydrogen takes place in catalyst-packed alloy tubes that are heated in a furnace. Up to now, this energy-intensive reaction has used catalyst-impregnated ceramic pellets, which are poured into the tubes. However, these ceramic pellets do not provide homogeneous heat transfer, which compromises reaction efficiency, and they are prone to crushing, which degrades the catalyst and thus necessitates change-out every 3–5 yr. Now, an alternative catalyst support that provides 2.5 times the surface area, 1.3–1.6 times greater heat-transfer rates, and lasts at least two times longer than ceramic supports has been commercialized by Catacel Corp. (Garrettsville, Ohio; www.catacel.com). Tested in cooperation with the NASA Glenn Research Center (Cleveland, Ohio; www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn), Catacel’s patented Stackable Structural Reactor (SSR) consists of metal foil with flow channels formed onto the surface. The catalyst is bonded to the foil, which is then assembled into canisters that can be stacked vertically into reformer tubes. SSR’s improved heat-transfer capability enables the furnace to operate at 40–50°C lower temperatures than if the reformer tubes were packed with ceramic…
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