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Review of catalyst materials and catalytic steam reforming reactions in SOFC anodes



It is expected that fuel cells will play a significant role in the future sustainable energy system, because of their high energy efficiency and possibility to use renewable fuels. Fuels, such as biogas, can be produced locally close to the customers. The improvement for FCs during the last years has been fast, but the technology is still in the early phases of development, in terms of cost, stability and market sharing.

The reforming reaction of hydrocarbons (e.g., methane) is significant for an effective solid oxide fuel cell operation. This reaction could either be described by global kinetics or by elementary surface reaction kinetics. When a global approach is applied, the reaction rates depend on temperature, partial pressures, activation energy and the pre-exponential factor. Note that the last two mentioned parameters are normally calculated from experimental data. Different detailed reaction mechanisms (considering elementary surface kinetics) are developed, but there is a disagreement considering the involved reaction pathways, rate-limiting steps and intermediate species. It is found that detailed kinetics of the reforming reaction is important for design and development of new effective catalytic materials. A thermodynamic analysis tells that nickel and ruthenium are suitable catalytic materials for the methane reforming reactions. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.