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Compact Diesel Reformer for PEM Fuel Cells

Award Information

Department of Defense
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
1997 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Aspen Systems, Inc.
184 Cedar Hill Street Marlborough, MA 01752-3017
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: Yes
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 1997
Title: Compact Diesel Reformer for PEM Fuel Cells
Agency / Branch: DOD / DARPA
Contract: N/A
Award Amount: $99,000.00


Various diesel reforming methods have been tried to develop an efficient and reliable means of providing hydrogen to fuel cell power systems promising high efficiency and low pollution. The most difficult obstacle has been coking up of reformers. Aspen proposes to solve the coking problem through an approach based on two proprietary technologies: catalytic diesel cracking and hydrogen separation membrane. One well-known coking mechanism is the thermal cracking of Olefins and reactions of the cracked products to cause coking at high temperatures. Aspen will prevent coking by first, feeding the reformer with only light hydrocarbons having low boiling points via catalytic cracking, and second, lowering the reformer equilibrium temperature by removing hydrogen from the reformer by hydrogen separation membranes. Similar membranes have been successfully tested inside methanol reformers operating at relatively low temperatures and inside methanol reformers operating at relatively low temperatures and high pressures. Diesel cracking will also enable us to burn the remaining portion of cracked light hydrocarbons and the residue in a clean burning blue-flame burner to generate steam needed for steam reforming. The proposed diesel reformer/PEM system will have close to 35% efficiency and generated only minute quantities of pollutants from a well controlled burner. In Phase I, we will design and test breadboard reformer components to prove the feasibility of diesel-to-hydrogen converter. In Phase II, we will demonstrate a compact prototype of 1kW diesel reformer/PEM fuel cell power system.

Principal Investigator:

Wendell Rhine

Business Contact:

Small Business Information at Submission:

Aspen Systems, Inc.
184 Cedar Hill St Marlborough, MA 01752

Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No