Journal article

Syngas generation from n-butane with an integrated MEMS assembly for gas processing in micro-solid oxide fuel cell systems

An integrated system of a microreformer and a carrier allowing for syngas generation from liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for micro-SOFC application is discussed. The microreformer with an overall size of 12.7 mm × 12.7 mm × 1.9 mm is fabricated with micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) technologies. As a catalyst, a special foam-like material made from ceria-zirconia nanoparticles doped with rhodium is used to fill the reformer cavity of 58.5 mm3. The microreformer is fixed onto a microfabricated structure with built-in fluidic channels and integrated heaters, the so-called functional carrier. It allows for thermal decoupling of the cold inlet gas and the hot fuel processing zone. Two methods for heating the microreformer are compared in this study: a) heating in an external furnace and b) heating with the two built-in heaters on the functional carrier. With both methods, high butane conversion rates of 74%–85% are obtained at around 550 °C. In addition, high hydrogen and carbon monoxide yields and selectivities are achieved. The results confirm those from classical lab reformers built without MEMS technology (N. Hotz et al., Chem. Eng. Sci., 2008, 63, 5193; N. Hotz et al., Appl. Catal., B, 2007, 73, 336). The material combinations and processing techniques enable syngas production with the present MEMS based microreformer with high performance for temperatures up to 700°C. The functional carrier is the basis for a new platform, which can integrate the micro-SOFC membranes and the gas processing unit as subsystem of an entire micro-SOFC system.

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