Hydrogen production through catalytic low-temperature bio-ethanol steam reforming

Palma, Vincenzo; Castaldo, Filomena; Ciambelli, Paolo; Iaquaniello, Gaetano
October 2012
Clean Technologies & Environmental Policy;Oct2012, Vol. 14 Issue 5, p973
Academic Journal
As a provider of our energy requirements, hydrogen seems to be one of most promising fuels, in particular when used to feed PEM fuel cells. When produced from a renewable source, it has got the potential to reduce the dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels and lower the amount of harmful emissions. Ethanol steam-reforming (ESR) reaction is an interesting option to obtain a H- and CH-rich stream with a low content of CO, combining the deep knowledge of the technology with the advantage of the biomass-derived feedstock. Thermodynamic analysis has indicated that the most interesting operating range to enhance the H production and minimize CO and coke formation requires low pressure, high temperature, and high water-to-ethanol molar ratio. On the other hand, despite its endothermic nature, ESR could be carried out at low temperature, to increase overall thermal efficiency, even if at these conditions the catalyst's deactivation, due to coking and sintering phenomena, is not negligible. The main objective of this study is to investigate on the activity, stability, and durability of bimetallic Pt-Ni and Pt-Co catalysts supported on CeO for low-temperature bio-ESR reaction. The catalysts have been prepared through different methods and with an optimized metal's content. They have also been characterized with various physico-chemical characterization tests, and the catalytic studies have been carried out in a lab-scale apparatus. While evaluating the effects on the catalysts' performances of preparation method, reaction temperature, space time, and water-to-ethanol molar ratio, the selected catalysts were found effective for the production of H by steam reforming at low temperature. In particular, the Pt/Ni/CeO catalyst shows a perfect agreement with equilibrium calculations yet at low contact times, although some carbon deposition occurs. Also the cobalt-based catalysts appear attractive. The relative rates of carbon growth versus gasification have been studied, and ascending water contents were used to study the effect of steam addition in the feed stream. An in-depth investigation of the reaction mechanism and the evaluation of the kinetic parameters will be crucial to complete the study of the proposed process.


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