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Comment Processing & Handling

Reforming ethanol into hydrogen

By Paul Grad |

A group from the University of Canterbury (www.canterbury.ac.nz), and Industrial Research Ltd. (both Christchurch, New Zealand; www.irl.cri.nz), has produced hydrogen from ethanol via steam reforming in a non-thermal plasma reactor. The project is part of an Industrial Research concept called Hylink that proposes using H2 as an energy storage medium and carrier for remote-area power systems. Current systems for producing H2 from ethanol are constrained by limitations within conventional catalytic reactors. This is in contrast to methanol, which is easily reformed, but which is produced mainly from natural gas and is, therefore, regarded as a non-renewable fuel. Another advantage of ethanol over methanol is that 6 mol of H2 are released per mole of ethanol as opposed to 3 mol of H2 per mole of methanol. The group says there is presently no catalytically based system that can reform ethanol at low temperatures (about 300°C) and atmospheric pressure with high conversion and high selectivity to H2 via a steam reforming reaction. Successful ethanol reforming reactors rely on high temperatures (above 450°C) and expensive catalysts to achieve satisfactory results. Less expensive catalysts and lower temperatures tend to favor side…
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