Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Developing a methanol reformer for hydrogen production

Methanol can be used as a source of hydrogen to provide energy for fuel cells, but work is still needed to develop compact and cheap reformers that convert the methanol to hydrogen. In this project, a prototype methanol reformer was constructed and tested for its suitability as a fuel supply for integration into a 40 kWe solid polymer fuel cell (SPFC) stack, appropriate for powering a bus. The reformer achieved high levels of hydrogen conversion and thermal efficiencies.

The best results obtained under test conditions showed methanol conversion between 87 and 93 %, with the value determined by the reforming temperature. The conversion efficiency was about 93%, and the overall thermal efficiency achieved was about 37%. The carbon monoxide exhausted from the carbon monoxide reducer was always less than 5 parts per million (ppm). These promising results were somewhat offset by other difficulties that were not overcome during the work period. In particular, the cold start-up took about 30 min because of the heavy methanol reformer design. Also, the overall design of the prototype was not as compact as had originally been proposed, mainly because of the size of the commercial components that had been used in its construction.


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