Because of the potential for high efficiency and low emissions, hydrogen powered fuel cell systems are considered to be the next generation power source for both stationary and transportation applications. Providing a hydrogen source to feed a fuel cell is a critical challenge. Steam reforming processes are demonstrated for producing hydrogen for fuel cell and other applications. Generating hydrogen via steam reformation requires that heat energy be transferred to the reactants to support the endothermic reaction. For a cylindrical steam-reforming reactor, large thermal gradients between the heat source (reactor wall) and reactor centerline create a non-ideal condition for complete conversion. This gradient is caused by insufficient heat transfer inside the catalyst bed. Passive flow disturbance inside the catalyst bed provides a potential to enhance the heat and mass transfer in the steam reforming process. This paper presents experimental research that investigates the effect of changing the flow pathway inside the reactor to improve the heat and mass transfer and thus enhance fuel conversion. The results of this study contribute to the improvement of reformer design for better fuel processing system performance.

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