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Content archived on 2024-04-15

NOVEL INTERNAL REFORMING CATALYSTS FOR MOLTEN CARBONATE FUEL CELLS.

Objective

MOLTEN CARBONATE FUEL CELLS OFFER A VERY ATTRACTIVE OPTION FOR THE EFFICIENT GENERATION OF ELECTRICITY AND HIGH GRADE HEAT USING NATURAL GAS. THE FUEL CELL IS DEPENDENT ON PURE HYDROGEN AS FUEL AND THIS INVOLVES CONVERSION OF NATURAL GAS BY STEAM REFORMING. OPERATION OF THE REFORMER AND FUEL CELL AS ONE SINGLE UNIT ELIMINATES MUCH OF THE COMPLEXITY OF A SEPARATE REFORMER UNIT. THE INCORPORATION OF AN INTERNAL REFORMING STATE INTO THE SYSTEM ENABLES THE HIGH GRADE HEAT TO BE USED DIRECTLY IN THE ENDOTHERMIC REFORMING REACTION, WITH A RESULTANT IMPROVEMENT IN OVERALL THERMAL EFFICIENCY, REDUCED COSTS, AND LOWER TEMPERATURE GRADIENTS. THE DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH ACTIVITY STEAM REFORMING CATALYSTS WHICH ALLOW THE FUEL CELL TO OPERATE AT LOWER TEMPERATURES AND WILL IMPROVE TO OVERALL LIFE OF THE UNIT.
A variety of catalyst formulations have been tested in an out of cell activity testing rig. Literature searches indicated that the major problems which are encountered with internal reforming catalysts are corrosion and wetting by the carbonate electrolyte. Accordingly, a comprehensive study of the corrosion and wetting of various materials has been carried out (under simulated anode conditions). This has enabled the design of potential catalysts. Zirconia, magnesia and ceria were identified as relatively inexpensive corrosion resistant support materials. The platinum group metals and nickel showed excellent corrosion resistance. All of the ceramic materials tested were found to be wetted at 650 C by carbonate but metals had more resistance, in particular gold, silver, ruthenium and copper had high contact angles under fuel gas atmospheres.
THE AIM OF THE PROJECT IS TO DEVELOP CORROSION RESISTANT INTERNAL REFORMING CATALYSTS FOR THE EFFICIENT CONVERSION OF METHANE/STEAM MIXTURES TO HYDROGEN AND CARBON MONOXIDE AT TEMPERATURES IN THE RANGE 575 DEGREES C TO 650 DEGREES C FOR USE IN MOLTEN CARBONATE FUEL CELLS. STUDIES IN THE USA HAVE SHOWN THAT REDUCING THE TEMPERATURE OF THE MOLTEN CARBONATE FUEL CELL FROM 650 DEGREES C TO 625 DEGREES C GREATLY IMPROVES THE LIFE OF THE UNIT BUT REDUCES THE EFFICIENCY OF THE METHANE TO HYDROGEN CONVERSION REACTION. THE OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAMME ARE:
A) TO IDENTIFY CORROSION RESISTANT CATALYST SUPPORTS
B) TO IDENTIFY HIGH ACTIVITY REFORMING CATALYSTS
THERE ARE INDICATIONS THAT THE ADDITION OF SMALL QUANTITIES OF PRECIOUS METALS TO BASE METAL REFORMING CATALYSTS SHOULD ENHANCE REFORMING ACTIVITY. PROMISING CATALYSTS WILL BE EVALUATED UNDER REALISTIC CONDITIONS IN A MOLTEN CARBONATE FUEL CELL AT CNR MESSINA.

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Call for proposal

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Coordinator

JOHNSON MATTHEY PLC (TRADING AS SYNETIX)
EU contribution
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Address
Blounts Court, Sonning Common
RG4 9NH READING
United Kingdom

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