Modeling and Design of a Multi-Tubular Packed-Bed Reactor for Methanol Steam Reforming over a Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 Catalyst

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Methanol as a hydrogen carrier can be reformed with steam over Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts. In this paper a comprehensive pseudo-homogenous model of a multi-tubular packed-bed reformer has been developed to investigate the impact of operating conditions and geometric parameters on its performance. A kinetic Langmuir-Hinshelwood model of the methanol steam reforming process was proposed based on the work of Peppley et al. [1]. In addition to the kinetic model, the pressure drop and the mass and heat transfer phenomena along the reactor were taken into account. This model was verified by a dynamic model in the platform of ASPEN. The diffusion effect inside catalyst particles was also estimated and accounted for by the effectiveness factor. The simulation results showed axial temperature profiles in both tube and shell side with different operating conditions. Moreover, the lower flow rate of liquid fuel and higher inlet temperature of thermal air led to a lower concentration of residual methanol, but also a higher concentration of generated CO from the reformer exit. The choices of operating conditions were limited to ensure a tolerable concentration of methanol and CO in H2-rich gas for feeding into a high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (HT-PEMFC) stack. With fixed catalyst load, the increase of tube number and decrease of tube diameter improved the methanol conversion, but also increased the CO concentration in reformed gas. In addition, increasing the number of baffle plates in the shell side increased the methanol conversion and the CO concentration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number610
Issue number3
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • methanol steam reforming
  • multi-tubular packed-bed reformer
  • hydrogen production
  • temperature profile
  • geometric parameter
  • Methanol steam reforming
  • Geometric parameter
  • Temperature profile
  • Hydrogen production
  • Multi-tubular packed-bed reformer


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