M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentArtoul Moris
SubjectOn-Board Hydrogen Production by Methanol Steam
Reforming for Internal Combustion Engine Fueling
DepartmentDepartment of Chemical Engineering
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Moshe Sheintuch
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


The need for the reduction of our energetic needs dependence on fossil fuels is a well-known global challenge. The Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is the main power plant in most of modern transportation systems. As such, it is responsible for a substantial part of petroleum fuel consumption as well as environmental pollution. Vast interest has been paid to study hydrogen as an automotive fuel for fuel cell propulsion systems, the main issues are the hydrogen purity requirements for fuel cells, the need for new infrastructures and the challenges of hydrogen storage. For small scale hydrogen productions such as for those related to automotive applications, methanol exhibits highly promising qualities as a hydrogen carrier, since it can be produced in large quantities and is easily decomposed in the presence of steam by a catalytic endothermic process i.e. steam reforming, and generates H2-rich CO and CO2 mixtures suitable for feeding ICEs. The objective of the research is to develop a catalytic reformer-heat exchanger for the on-board production of Syngas based on the analysis of methanol reforming process, a reactor design, and appropriate optimization of the operation conditions that will ensure syngas composition favorable for ICE fueling.

In this thesis a reactor-heat exchanger design is presented for the thermochemical recuperation of ICE exhaust waste energy for improved system energetic efficiency (up to 15% according to simulations) with a great potential of pollutant emissions mitigation compared with gasoline.

Implementation of this approach required the study of catalytic activity, stability and testing of a reactor-heat exchanger. A commercial CuO/ZnO catalyst was tested in a small reactor and by temperature programmed adsorption or oxidation (TPA, TPO). Deactivation due to coking is evident, especially at high temperatures and low steam to carbon ratio, the behavior and nature of the coke formation was also assessed.

Simulation showed that a large heat transfer area is required. That was implemented with a commercial Pt-coated cross-flow reactor that was tested in a laboratory apparatus developed for this aim showing satisfactory results: the reformer showed good performance in terms of methanol conversion, and heat transfer efficiency at conditions of low engine load, indicating the feasibility of the reformer-heat exchanger possible integration in an on-board hydrogen production system. No evident catalyst deactivation was observed in this case.