Steam Reforming of Natural Gas in a Reformer and Membrane Modules Test Plant: Plant Design Criteria and Operating Experience
A staged membrane reactor, called reformer and membrane modules (RMM), test plant with a capacity of 20 Nm3/h hydrogen has been designed and constructed to investigate at an industrial scale level the performance of such innovative architecture. A major benefit of the proposed RMM configuration is the shift of conversion beyond equilibrium value by removing the hydrogen produced at high temperature, thanks to the integration of highly selective Pd-based membranes. By this way, the process can operate at lower thermal level (below 650°C in comparison to 850–950°C needed in tradition plants). Moreover, a noble metal catalyst supported on SiC foam catalyst is used in order to enhance thermal transport inside the catalytic tube. This chapter reports together with preliminary operational data, the plant design criteria, the process scheme, the construction of reformers and membrane units, and the control system implemented to maximize experimental outputs. Four types of Pd-based membranes, three tubular and one planar shaped, are installed in order to compare the performance in terms of hydrogen flux permeated. The ranges of operating conditions investigated (reaction temperatures and pressures, separation temperatures and pressures, flow-rates, and sweeping gas flows) are defined; plant performance and preliminary experimental data are also reported and assessed. The 20 Nm3/h RMM installation will allow the potentialities of selective membrane application in industrial high-temperature chemical processes to be completely understood and constitutes a unique in the world.
KeywordsMethane Conversion Membrane Reactor Membrane Module Separation Module Selective Membrane
This work was carried out within the framework of the project “Pure hydrogen from natural gas reforming up to total conversion obtained by integrating chemical reaction and membrane separation,” financially supported by MIUR (FISR DM 17/12/2002)-Italy.
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