SBIR Phase I: Catalytic Nanochannel Reactor Arrays for Fuel Reforming
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
2021 Miller Drive, Longmont, CO, 80501
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research Phase I research project proposes the development of advanced nanochannel array reactors for energy-efficient and cost-effective distributed hydrogen generation. Although catalytic reforming addresses this need, the performance and manufacturability of existing reformers are far from optimal. Significant performance gains could be realized by achieving an order of magnitude better control of spatial catalyst distribution to increase the probability of interaction of reagent molecules with the catalyst surface and by eliminating opportunities for unreacted molecules to pass through the reformer. Synkera targets this opportunity by proposing a novel catalytic platform with a unique architecture, where reactants are channeled through the dense array of cylindrical nanoreactors conformally coated with high surface area catalyst. Such an architecture removes diffusion limitations and greatly facilitates reagent/catalyst interaction, significantly increasing conversion efficiency and reducing reaction time, while maintaining high flow rates. In addition, catalyst confinement inside the nanochannels provides an opportunity for additional performance improvements via engineering of the catalyst structure at the nanoscale. The goal of the Phase I work is to demonstrate that the proposed reactors can enable compact integrated reformers with better performance in comparison with conventional catalytic bed reactors. The expected result of the proposed work is a manufacturing technology for commercially viable advanced performance reformers for reliable and low cost hydrogen generation. The vision of building an energy infrastructure that uses hydrogen as the energy carrier is considered the most likely path toward a full commercial application of hydrogen energy technologies. The primary focus of this project is on distributed, point-of-use hydrogen generation. Though initial work is targeted on low-volume production (such as in portable fuel cells), the technology is also scalable to larger power generators, such as automotive fuel cells, backup power generators, hydrogen refueling stations and others, and makes a significant contribution towards the implementation of a "hydrogen economy" concept. In addition, well-defined and uniform nanochannel arrays can also serve as a model platform for the studies of the kinetics of catalytic reactions.
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