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Membranes (Basel). 2016 Sep 19;6(3). pii: E44. doi: 10.3390/membranes6030044.

Integration of Methane Steam Reforming and Water Gas Shift Reaction in a Pd/Au/Pd-Based Catalytic Membrane Reactor for Process Intensification.

Author information

1
Center of Inorganic Membrane Studies, Department of Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609, USA. bcastrodominguez@wpi.edu.
2
Center of Inorganic Membrane Studies, Department of Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609, USA. ivanpm@wpi.edu.
3
Center of Inorganic Membrane Studies, Department of Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609, USA. lma@wpi.edu.
4
Center of Inorganic Membrane Studies, Department of Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609, USA. rma2@wpi.edu.
5
Center of Inorganic Membrane Studies, Department of Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609, USA. agdixon@wpi.edu.
6
Center of Inorganic Membrane Studies, Department of Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609, USA. nikolas@wpi.edu.
7
Center of Inorganic Membrane Studies, Department of Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609, USA. yhma@wpi.edu.

Abstract

Palladium-based catalytic membrane reactors (CMRs) effectively remove H₂ to induce higher conversions in methane steam reforming (MSR) and water-gas-shift reactions (WGS). Within such a context, this work evaluates the technical performance of a novel CMR, which utilizes two catalysts in series, rather than one. In the process system under consideration, the first catalyst, confined within the shell side of the reactor, reforms methane with water yielding H₂, CO and CO₂. After reforming is completed, a second catalyst, positioned in series, reacts with CO and water through the WGS reaction yielding pure H₂O, CO₂ and H₂. A tubular composite asymmetric Pd/Au/Pd membrane is situated throughout the reactor to continuously remove the produced H₂ and induce higher methane and CO conversions while yielding ultrapure H₂ and compressed CO₂ ready for dehydration. Experimental results involving (i) a conventional packed bed reactor packed (PBR) for MSR, (ii) a PBR with five layers of two catalysts in series and (iii) a CMR with two layers of two catalysts in series are comparatively assessed and thoroughly characterized. Furthermore, a comprehensive 2D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model was developed to explore further the features of the proposed configuration. The reaction was studied at different process intensification-relevant conditions, such as space velocities, temperatures, pressures and initial feed gas composition. Finally, it is demonstrated that the above CMR module, which was operated for 600 h, displays quite high H₂ permeance and purity, high CH₄ conversion levels and reduced CO yields.

KEYWORDS:

catalytic membrane reactor; hydrogen production; methane steam reforming; reaction coupling; water-gas-shift reaction

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