Friday, 17 July 2009

Sorption-Enhanced Steam Reforming

Could the cars and laptops of the future be fuelled by old chip fat? Engineers at the University of Leeds believe so, and are developing an energy efficient, environmentally-friendly hydrogen production system. The system enables hydrogen to be extracted from waste materials, such as vegetable oil and the glycerol by-product of bio-diesel. The aim is to create the high purity hydrogen-based fuel necessary not only for large-scale power production, but also for smaller portable fuel cells.
The system being developed at Leeds – known as Unmixed and Sorption-Enhanced Steam Reforming - mixes waste products with steam to release hydrogen and is potentially cheaper, cleaner and more energy efficient.

A hydrocarbon-based fuel from plant or waste sources is mixed with steam in a catalytic reactor, generating hydrogen and carbon dioxide along with excess water. The water is then easily condensed by cooling and the carbon dioxide is removed in-situ by a solid sorbent material.
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