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CFD simulation with detailed chemistry of steam reforming of methane for hydrogen production in an integrated micro-reactor

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Available at www.sciencedirect.com

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/he

CFD simulation with detailed chemistry of steam reforming
of methane for hydrogen production in an integrated
micro-reactor
Xuli Zhai a, Shi Ding a,b, Yinhong Cheng a, Yong Jin a, Yi Cheng a,*
a

Department of Chemical Engineering, Beijing Key Laboratory of Green Chemical Reaction Engineering and Technology,
Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, PR China
b
Research Institute of Petroleum Processing, SINOPEC, Beijing 100083, PR China

article info

abstract

Article history:

micro-reactor has drawn more and more attention in recent years due to the process

Received 28 December 2009

intensification on basic transport phenomena in micro-channels, which would often lead

Received in revised form

to the improved reactor performance. Steam reforming of methane (SRM) in micro-reactor

6 March 2010

has great potential to realize a low-cost, compact process for hydrogen production via an

Accepted 8 March 2010

evident shortening of reaction time from seconds to milliseconds. This work focuses on the

Available online 8 April 2010

detailed modeling and simulation of a micro-reactor design for SRM reaction with the
integration of a micro-channel for Rh-catalyzed endothermic reaction, a micro-channel for

Keywords:

Pt-catalyzed exothermic reaction and a wall in between with Rh or Pt-catalyst coated layer.

Hydrogen production

The elementary reaction kinetics for SRM process is adopted in the CFD model, while the

Steam reforming of methane

combustion channel is described by global reaction kinetics. The model predictions were

Micro-reactor

quantitatively validated by the experimental data in the literature. For the extremely fast

CFD

reactions in both channels, the simulations indicated the significance of the heat

Elementary reaction kinetics

conduction ability of the reactor wall as well as the interplay between the exothermic and
endothermic reactions (e.g., the flow rate ratio of fuel gas to reforming gas). The characteristic width of 0.5 mm is considered to be a suitable channel size to balance the trade-off
between the heat transfer behavior in micro-channels and the easy fabrication of microchannels.
ª 2010 Professor T. Nejat Veziroglu. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1.

Introduction

Large quantities of hydrogen are needed in the petroleum and
ch...
CFD simulation with detailed chemistry of steam reforming
of methane for hydrogen production in an integrated
micro-reactor
Xuli Zhai
a
, Shi Ding
a,b
, Yinhong Cheng
a
, Yong Jin
a
, Yi Cheng
a,
*
a
Department of Chemical Engineering, Beijing Key Laboratory of Green Chemical Reaction Engineering and Technology,
Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, PR China
b
Research Institute of Petroleum Processing, SINOPEC, Beijing 100083, PR China
article info
Article history:
Received 28 December 2009
Received in revised form
6 March 2010
Accepted 8 March 2010
Available online 8 April 2010
Keywords:
Hydrogen production
Steam reforming of methane
Micro-reactor
CFD
Elementary reaction kinetics
abstract
micro-reactor has drawn more and more attention in recent years due to the process
intensification on basic transport phenomena in micro-channels, which would often lead
to the improved reactor performance. Steam reforming of methane (SRM) in micro-reactor
has great potential to realize a low-cost, compact process for hydrogen production via an
evident shortening of reaction time from seconds to milliseconds. This work focuses on the
detailed modeling and simulation of a micro-reactor design for SRM reaction with the
integration of a micro-channel for Rh-catalyzed endothermic reaction, a micro-channel for
Pt-catalyzed exothermic reaction and a wall in between with Rh or Pt-catalyst coated layer.
The elementary reaction kinetics for SRM process is adopted in the CFD model, while the
combustion channel is described by global reaction kinetics. The model predictions were
quantitatively validated by the experimental data in the literature. For the extremely fast
reactions in both channels, the simulations indicated the significance of the heat
conduction ability of the reactor wall as well as the interplay between the exothermic and
endothermic reactions (e.g., the flow rate ratio of fuel gas to reforming gas). The charac-
teristic width of 0.5 mm is considered to be a suitable channel size to balance the trade-off
between the heat transfer behavior in micro-channels and the easy fabrication of micro-
channels.
ª 2010 Professor T. Nejat Veziroglu. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Large quantities of hydrogen are needed in the petroleum and
chemical industries, of which the largest application is for the
processing (“upgrading”) of fossil fuels, and in the production
of ammonia [1e3]. Taking the refining industry for example,
the hydrogenation occupies over 70% in crude process in
America and the ratio is up to 90% in Japan [4]. In addition,
hydrogen has increasingly received attention as an energy-
storage medium which burns in a less-polluting way than do
fossil fuels [5]. Firstly, hydrogen has a higherheating value, i.e.
140 MJ/kg, than other common fuels [6]. Secondly, hydrogen
contains no carbon so that CO
2
is not produced after the
combustion. Finally, hydrogen also serves as the ideal fuel for
fuel cell, especially for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel
cell. Therefore, the demand for hydrogen will increase
continuously and the cost for hydrogen production becomes
crucial.
Hydrogen can be prepared in several different ways, but
economically the most important processes involve removal
* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ86 10 62794468; fax: þ86 10 62772051.
E-mail address: yicheng@tsinghua.edu.cn (Y. Cheng).
Available at www.sciencedirect.com
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/he
international journal of hydrogen energy 35 (2010) 5383e5392
0360-3199/$ e see front matter ª 2010 Professor T. Nejat Veziroglu. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ijhydene.2010.03.034
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