Fuel Cell Reformer
The fuel injector/mixer is a component of an integrated Jet fuel processor device that
we herein refer to as a reformer. The reformer reactor that the injector operates with is
a high temperature catalytic fuel processor designed to convert Jet-A fuel into a hydrogen-rich
synthesis gas for ultimate use in a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) for aircraft APU application.
In this context, vaporized Jet-A fuel is injected with either preheated air and/or steam and then reacted
over a catalyst bed to break-down the fuel's constituents into primarily hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO)
which are fed to the SOFC for production of electrical power.
The scope of this particular phase of the research program is strictly limited to developing a steam/fuel/air
injector and then characterizing its performance by appropriate testing.
Another very important technology concept for specific investigation in this research task is to
develop advanced injection and mixing approaches for the combined hot air, steam and Jet-A fuel feed stream
to significantly mitigate carbon deposition. Optimized fuel-air-steam injection techniques will not only
boost reformer efficiency, but, increase reactor performance and ensure long term stability with respect
to internal coke formation on catalyst surfaces and reactor walls.
The scope of this research and development is to design, fabricate and test three different reformer
fuel-feed injectors. One injector will be based on catalytic partial oxidation (CPOX) technology, one injector
will be for an auto-thermal reforming (ATR) system and the last injector is for a steam reformer (SR) configuration.
These three air/fuel/steam injector concepts will be explored during testing for the purpose of enhancing mixing
in the reformer to eliminate carbon deposition and to reduce reformer size and weight.
Catalytic partial oxidation (CPOX), steam reforming (SR), and the auto-thermal reforming (ATR) reactor
are the three possible options identified for this APU system.
Fuel Reformer Injector Test Facility
The CE-7C Fuel Reformer Injector Test Facility is used to study Jet-A catalytic fueled reformer reactors
coupled with advanced fuel injector and mixer designs. The reformer technology under development at GRC is
focused on the integration of a compact light-weight fuel processor with a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC)
to generate 10-20 kW power output for use in a commercial Aircraft Auxiliary Power Unit (APU).
Liquid or vaporized Jet-A fuel can be injected with either preheated air and/or steam, and then reacted
over various reformer catalyst bed materials including monolith, microlith and pellet.
The function of the reformer is to break down the fuel constituents into primarily a hydrogen (H2) and
carbon monoxide (CO) rich syngas. This syngas exiting the test reformer can either be fed to a customer
furnished SOFC for the production of electrical power or directed to the rigs catalytic combustor.
The facility has the capability to operate with pressurized gaseous fuels or other liquid hydrocarbons
which may include ethanol, gasoline and diesel. The reformer chamber can be operated from atmospheric
pressure to 75 psig and up to 950? C maximum reformate outlet temperature.
This facility will use state-of-the-art optical and laser-based diagnostic techniques,
including the Raman Spectroscopy and Planar Elastic Scattering, Schlieren Photography, and
Particle Imaging Velocimetry. Through the use of quartz viewport access, these methods can
reveal species concentrations, injector patternization, velocity contours, particle size
distribution and fuel-air-steam mixing characteristics. A LabViewTM data acquisition system
is interfaced with the injector test rig to provide process control along with acquisition
and recording of steady-state data. The facility utilizes a Varian chromatography system model
?Saturn 2000? GC/MS, for analysis of reformate gas composition.
Dr. Chi-Ming Lee
Martin J. Rabinowitz
Angela D. Surgenor