The Fuel Cell Reformer

A fuel reformer is a device that transforms a fuel, e.g. natural gas, methanol or diesel, into another fuel form (normally a hydrogen rich gas).

PowerCell’s fuel reformer is used to produce a hydrogen rich gas which is fed to a fuel cell stack for electric power conversion. The hydrogen can also be used for applications e.g. NOx reduction agent or as a synthetic gas for polymers. The process is similar to after-treatment systems for cars and trucks. Depending on demands of gas quality, other catalytic steps might be needed downstream of the reformer to modify the gas composition. They are referred to as shift reactors and/or preferential oxidation reactors.

How does it work?

A fuel reformer is a device that mixes a fuel with steam and/or air and lets the mixture pass a catalytic
surface. The reactants are then converted into hydrogen, carbon dioxide, steam and carbon monoxide. The temperature for the reaction is >400˚C. To create an efficient reactor the catalyst is distributed over a porous support. To reform diesel on board in a transport application the process needs to be self-sustained on heat for the reaction. This is done by combining catalytic oxidation (creates heat) of diesel and steam reforming (requires heat) of diesel. By balancing these two reactions, a nearly heat source independent solution is created called auto-thermal reforming (ATR). The catalyst and media is capsuled into a steel container to create a reactor

Volvo Heritage

Relying on profound heritage from Volvo, the know-how of fuel cells and diesel reforming technology have set the base for a state-of-the-art diesel based fuel cell system, Powercell PowerPac.
PowerCell has selected an Auto Thermal Reactor (ATR) technology to evaporate (not combust) the diesel and extracting hydrogen-rich gas with remarkable gas purity, well within the limits of what a low temperature PEM fuel cell can support in terms of CO. By avoiding combustion, no NOx or particle matters are created. Downstream, sulphur is trapped and carbon monoxide is cleaned up whilst the hydrogen content is enriched.