This paper presents the experimental studies of the performance of a small reformer for hydrogen generation from water solution of methanol. An electric heater was built around the reactor unit to supply the energy for the endothermal reaction between methanol and steam. The parameters under studied were the temperature of the catalytic reaction (T), the mass flow rate of methanol solution (m˙), steam-to-methanol ratio (α), and the length (L) and number of cells (N) of the catalyst carrier, while the catalysts used were CuO-ZnO-Al2O3, CuO-ZnO-Al2O3-Pt-Rh, and Pt-Rh. The test results show that for all conditions both of the conversion and yield rates of hydrogen increase with increasing length and number of cells of the catalyst carrier. However, such increases become gradual in the high ranges of L and N. For the catalyst CuO-ZnO-Al2O3-Pt-Rh with N = 300 cells per square inch, L = 105mm, α = 1.9, and m˙ = 0.064 mole/min, the conversion rate may be as high as 99.9%. On the other hand, both of the conversion and yield rates decrease with increasing ratio of steam to methanol in the reactant. The decreases are more apparent at high temperature. When the mass flow rate of the methanol solution is increased, the conversion rate decreases. Such a decrease is more distinct in the medium range of methanol flow rate. On the other hand, the yield rate of hydrogen increases with the flow rate of methanol solution, especially at high temperature. For all of the three catalysts tested, both of the conversion and yield rates increase with reaction temperature, except for catalyst CuO-ZnO-Al2O3 at high temperature. Although catalyst CuO-ZnO-Al2O3-Pt-Rh shows no high-temperature deterioration, its performance is much poorer than that of catalyst CuO-ZnO-Al2O3 at low to medium temperatures. The difference in the performance between these two catalysts may be as high as 50%. By arranging a turbulence inducer located at the upstream side of the catalyst carrier, both of the conversion and yield rates can be increased significantly.

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