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Research Paper

Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling of a Catalytic Flat Plate Fuel Reformer for On-Board Hydrogen Generation

[+] Author and Article Information
Susanta K. Das

e-mail:  sdas@kettering.edu

Kranthi K. Gadde

Department of Mechanical Engineering
and Center for Fuel Cell Systems
and Powertrain Integration,
Kettering University,
1700 University Avenue,
Flint, MI 48504

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received May 31, 2013; final manuscript received July 17, 2013; published online September 13, 2013. Editor: Nigel M. Sammes.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 10(6), 061005 (Sep 13, 2013) (6 pages) Paper No: FC-13-1058; doi: 10.1115/1.4025056 History: Received May 31, 2013; Revised July 17, 2013

A catalytic flat plate fuel reformer offers better heat integration by combining the exothermic catalytic combustion reaction on one side and the endothermic catalytic reforming reaction on the other side. In this study, steam reforming of natural gas (methane) coupled with a methane catalytic combustion in a catalytic flat plate reformer is studied using a two-dimensional model for a cocurrent flow arrangement. The two-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model makes the predictions more realistic by increasing its capability to capture the effect of various design parameters and eliminates the uncertainties introduced by heat and mass transfer coefficients used in one-dimensional models. In our work we simulated the entire catalytic flat plate reformer (both reforming side and combustion side) and carried-out studies related to important design parameters such as channel height, inlet fuel velocities, and catalyst layer thickness that can provide guidance for the practical implementation of such fuel reformer design. The simulated transverse temperature profiles (not shown here due to page limitation) show that there is virtually no heat loss across the plate at the reformer exit. Introduction of a water gas shift (WGS) reaction at the reformer side along with our optimized reformer design parameters decreases the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) almost 90%–98% in the final reformate exiting the reformer as compared to without the WGS reaction. The CFD results obtained in this study will be very helpful to understand the optimization of design parameters to build a first generation prototype.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Computational simulation domain geometry

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Fig. 2

Production of dry H2 at different inlet velocities along the reformer channel without the water gas shift (WGS) reaction

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Fig. 3

Production of dry CO at different inlet velocities along the reformer channel without the water gas shift (WGS) reaction

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Fig. 4

Production of dry H2 at different channel heights at 4 m/s inlet mixture velocity without the WGS

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Fig. 5

Production of CO at different channel heights at 4 m/s inlet mixture velocity without the WGS

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Fig. 6

Production of dry H2 with the WGS reaction as a function of channel length

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Fig. 7

Reduction of CO in the WGS reaction as a function of channel length

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Fig. 8

Reduction of CO at different catalyst layer thicknesses in the WGS reaction zone as a function of channel length

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Fig. 9

Production of dry H2 during the WGS with optimized reformer geometry

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Fig. 10

Reduction of dry CO during the WGS with optimized reformer geometry

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