On the way to a new era of our society which will be based on hydrogen energy, it is needed to develop on-site hydrogen production systems to cover current insufficient infrastructures of hydrogen supply network systems. For this, a highly efficient compact reformer can be one of the most suitable solutions for on-site production of hydrogen which is supplied to distributed electric power-generation systems. But, the local and overall energy balance in the reformer should be precisely controlled since the reforming reaction processes of hydrocarbon fuels are very sensitive to reaction temperature in the reformer. For smaller reformers, in particular, the amount of heat loss through the outer surfaces is large enough to dominate the reactions. An appropriate way for thermal energy management, therefore, is necessary to accomplish highly efficient reformers. For these backgrounds, a compact tubular-typed fuel reformer was fabricated in this study, and was applied to produce hydrogen from methanol, focusing on the partial oxidation reaction (POR). The reformer was composed of a stainless steel pipe as the reactor exterior and ceramic honeycomb blocks inserted in two locations of the reactor. The honeycomb blocks are expected to assist the reforming reactions and transfer the thermal energy of the exhaust gas to the reaction region, acting as a heat regenerator. The upstream-side honeycomb block was aimed to perform an effective heat exchange from the reactor wall to the reactant gas. By inserting the block, the reforming reaction became stable at right after the block. The maximum hydrogen production was achieved in the condition of equivalence ratio, around 3.5. The other honeycomb block was inserted in the downstream of the reaction zone to convert the thermal energy of exhaust gas to radiation energy which can be transferred to the upstream reaction region. Comparing to the case without the downstream-side block, the temperature of the reaction region became higher. Gas temperatures in the downstream region, on the other hand, became lower. Methanol conversion ratio and hydrogen production ratio enhanced due to the higher temperature at the reaction region. These results indicate that the thermal energy possessed by the exhaust gas was regenerated in the reaction region by the downstream-side honeycomb block and contributes to enhance the efficiency of the fuel reformer.

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