Design and characterization of an isobutane reformer for fuel cell applications
The research presented here describes the design and characterization of an isobutane reformer for the production of hydrogen. The design is for a reformer large enough of producing the hydrogen necessary for achieving a 1kW power output from a fuel cell. The reformer is a tubular packed bed reactor with an inside diameter of 20 mm and an overall length of 1ft. A clamp furnace heats the reformer. The reaction kinetics are based on literature data and the temperature profile, pressure profile, and component flow rates are modeled with computer simulation. A parametric study is presented to show the effects of varying process conditions. The optimal process parameters are an initial temperature of 850K, a feed of 0.00085 mol/s of isobutane, a ratio of eight times the isobutane flow for steam flow, and operating pressure of 1.2 atm or around atmospheric conditions. Throughout the study the pressure drop was deemed to be negligible. A heat transfer simulation was also conducted and compared to laboratory data. The simulated heat transfer was shown to be 9.5x105 W/m3. The maximum laboratory heat transfer observed was 7590 W/m3, with an average value of 2720 W/m3. Further laboratory experiments are needed to validate the simulated heat transfer.
0542: Chemical engineering