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Computational fluid dynamics and experimental validation of a compact steam methane reformer for hydrogen production from natural gas

Ngo, Son Ich, Lim, Young-Il, Kim, Woohyun, Seo, Dong Joo, Yoon, Wang Lai
Applied energy 2019 v.236 pp. 340-353
combustion, energy, equations, heat transfer, heat transfer coefficient, hydrogen, hydrogen production, methane, models, momentum, natural gas, producer gas, reaction kinetics, steam, temperature profiles, turbulent flow
A three-dimensional (3D) computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of an annulus steam methane reforming (SMR) reactor was developed for producing 2.5 Nm3/h of H2 from natural gas. The feed and combustion gases played a role in a counter-current heat exchange owing to a narrow sleeve equipped between the combustor and catalytic reactor. The momentum, energy, and mass conservation equations were integrated with a realizable k–ε turbulence model, discrete ordinates radiation model, and reversible SMR reaction kinetics. The CFD results such as axial temperature profiles and producer gas compositions were validated against the experimental data measured in this study. The thermal efficiency of the compact SMR reactor was 60%, and the heat flux through the reactor wall was 39 kW/m2. The overall heat transfer coefficient from the sleeve to the catalytic reactor was 158 W/m2/K. The sleeve-type SMR reactor flattened the temperature profile along the reactor length.