Hydrogen generation in a reverse-flow microreactor: 1. Model formulation and scaling



A 1-D model for methane partial oxidation in a tubular microreactor is considered. This work is motivated by a recent report by Kikas et al. that experimentally demonstrated the possibility of autothermal generation of hydrogen by partial oxidation of methane in a tubular microreactor. The reactor consists of four cylindrical channels, each 500 microns in diameter, containing Pt/13%–Rh catalyst. Autothermal generation of hydrogen was possible in both unidirectional (UD) and reverse-flow (RF) operations of the reactor, with the RF operation providing better hydrogen yield and lower temperatures than those of the UD operation. Critical comparison of methane oxidation and reforming kinetics from the literature is performed. An analysis of the timescales of individual processes within the reactor is presented to gain fundamental insight into the reactor operation. Finally, the effect of radiation heat transfer is also considered, and it is found to play an important role for a shorter-size reactor. © 2005 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2005