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Fraunhofer engaged on optimized methanol reformers to ship hydrogen - Pak Auto Services
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Fraunhofer engaged on optimized methanol reformers to ship hydrogen

Fraunhofer engaged on optimized methanol reformers to ship hydrogen

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Methanol reformers convert easy-to-transport methanol into hydrogen. Nonetheless, typical reformers have a lot of drawbacks comparable to catalyst attrition. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems IMM are working on an progressive methanol reformer for cell functions to beat these challenges.

Transporting hydrogen is usually a complicated course of. Changing hydrogen into methanol can present an answer, as not solely is methanol a lot simpler to move than hydrogen, it can be saved nearly limitless at ambient strain. This paves the best way for the manufacturing of inexperienced hydrogen in sunny areas and its conversion into methanol and its simplified transport.

Using methanol as a hydrogen provider and changing the methanol again into hydrogen. © Fraunhofer IMM


The carbon dioxide required to supply methanol may both be extracted from the environment or obtained from industrial processes, comparable to cement manufacturing. Methanol has a really excessive power density—producing round 4.8 kilowatt-hours of power per liter—a determine that’s significantly larger than that of compressed hydrogen. As well as, the Worldwide Vitality Company forecasts extremely enticing prices of round six cents per kilowatt-hour for methanol.

To make the most of the power saved within the methanol, a methanol reformer and steam are used to transform it again into hydrogen and carbon dioxide on the place the place the hydrogen is required, such because the automotive. The general carbon footprint is due to this fact impartial. Nonetheless, there are nonetheless a lot of drawbacks with typical reformers.

The catalysts wanted for the reactions are composed of a copper-zinc-oxide powder that’s added to the reactor within the type of extruded pellets. Nonetheless, the inevitable actions in cell functions result in catalyst attrition that contaminates the gas cell. The catalyst materials can be not totally utilized and the response fee is low owing to comparatively low response temperatures.

Warmth administration can be a problem: the reactor requires warmth provide to drive the steam reforming response—however that is the place effectivity is misplaced. Warmth from the gas cell off-gas additionally can’t be utilized effectively.

Within the scope of a mess of publicly funded and trade tasks, researchers at Fraunhofer IMM are growing methanol reformers that may overcome these challenges.

For instance, the reformers they’re growing for cell functions provide numerous benefits. Amongst them is a a lot decrease house demand—one-sixth, round 17%, of the house {that a} typical reformer of comparable efficiency class would require—which is extraordinarily vital for cell functions. The researchers have additionally optimized the catalyst know-how.

Imm-wasserstoff-aus-methanol-gewinnen-bild-1

Automated prototype of a 5 kW methanol reformer from Fraunhofer IMM.


We’re choosing catalyst coatings containing treasured metals just like these utilized in automotive catalytic converters, as a result of there isn’t any attrition with these coatings. Much less catalyst materials is required because of this. As a result of our catalyst supplies even have a better exercise, the quantity of catalyst required is lowered even additional, and consequently the prices.

—,Dr. Gunther Kolb, Deputy Institute Director and Division Director at Fraunhofer IMM

Whereas typical catalysts more and more produce by-products comparable to carbon monoxide when operated at partial load, this isn’t the case with the catalyst from Fraunhofer IMM.

The analysis crew has additionally optimized the warmth administration, and in doing so has optimized the reformer’s power effectivity as properly. The crew coats plate warmth exchangers with the catalyst materials and combines them into stacks of as much as 200 plates. When the fuel flows over the plates, it comes into contact with the catalyst and can be heated extremely effectively within the small channels.

By using the waste warmth, we obtain glorious warmth integration and excessive system effectivity.

—Dr. Kolb

The reformers are appropriate for mass manufacturing; they are often produced by comparable processes established for high-pressure resistant automotive warmth exchangers.

At current, the researchers are engaged on a prototype with 35 kW of energy which is foreseen to be accomplished by the center of 2022.

It is a long-term undertaking; numerous prototypes are being built-in into land automobiles in order that we are able to check them.

—Dr. Kolb

For maritime functions, the researchers are growing a reformer offering 100 kilowatts of energy. In the long run, it’s even conceivable that the reformers which can be at the moment being produced from metal will probably be created from light-weight supplies comparable to titanium—an important consideration when introducing the know-how into automotive functions as a technique for the discount of weight and power consumption.

Fraunhofer is operating a webinar on “Methanol as a sustainable hydrogen provider” utilizing methanol reformers on 30 March.

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