2006 Outstanding Master’s Thesis – David Vernon

Hydrogen can be produced by a variety of methods including steam-reformation of hydrocarbon  fuels. In past studies the quasi non-dimensional space velocity parameter  (inverse residence time) has been shown to be insufficient in accurately  predicting fuel conversion in hydrocarbon-steam reformation. Heat transfer  limitations have been manifest with reactors of different geometries for  different scale applications. The proper understanding of scaling effects is  important for design of small scale reformer systems that would be used in  distributed stationary and on-board vehicle applications.

In order to achieve optimal  fuel conversion, the heat transfer limitations and the changes of these  limitations with respect to geometry and scale must be considered in the  reactor design. In this investigation measurement devices and techniques are  developed in order to acquire accurate temperature profiles from reactors of  different aspect ratios operating at the same space velocity. These data allow  preliminary quantification of heat transfer limitations in relation to reactor  geometry in steam reformation.

Using both the temperature profile information  as well as the traditional space velocity limitations proper scaling of steam  reformers may be accomplished. Furthermore knowledge of the temperature profile  during operation at both low and high space velocities (flow rates) may allow  control of future reactor designs with reduced IO count reducing both cost and  complexity.

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