Distributed Generation Reformer and Fuel Cell System Modeling and Reformer Catalyst Layer Optimization

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DePippo, Kurtis
Diesel Reforming , Steam Reforming , Porous Catalyst Layer Modeling , Distributed Generation , Reformer and Fuel Cell System
This research presents a diesel-fed steam reformer and solid oxide fuel cell stack system Honeywell UniSim® Design Suites model and a two-dimensional diesel-fed steam reformer ANSYS Fluent model. The performance of the reformer and fuel cell system was compared to the performance of diesel generators in Canadian remote communities to illustrate the environmental and economic advantages that reformer and fuel cell systems have over typical diesel generation setups. The results show that, despite current solid oxide fuel cell technology being economically unfeasible, technology that is nearing commercialization could present substantial environmental and economic savings opportunities for diesel-based distributed generation projects. The UniSim® model relied on several assumptions, one of which was the full conversion of the fuel feed within the steam reformer. A two-dimensional steam reformer model was therefore created in ANSYS Fluent to more accurately model the reforming process. Parameter studies on the reformer catalyst layer showed that reducing catalyst layer porosity along the length of the reformer results in improved reformer performance because of increased catalyst mass and higher reaction rates downstream that help push the reforming reaction towards equilibrium.
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