Microchannel Methanation Reactors Using Nanofabricated Catalysts

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$598,023.00
Award Year:
2010
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase II
Contract:
NNX10CB08C
Award Id:
90745
Agency Tracking Number:
084517
Solicitation Year:
n/a
Solicitation Topic Code:
X3
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
1585 Marauder Street, Chico, CA, 95973
Hubzone Owned:
N
Minority Owned:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
933302655
Principal Investigator:
Susana Carranza
Principal Investigator
(512) 512-0718
scarranza@makelengineering.com
Business Contact:
Susana Carranza
Business Official
(512) 512-0718
scarranza@makelengineering.com
Research Institution:
n/a
Abstract
Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI) and the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) propose to develop and demonstrate a microchannel methanation reactor based on nanofabricated catalysts. Our innovative approach of combining microchannel reactor technology with nanofabricated catalysts provides the synergy between these two emerging technologies with the potential to enhance reaction efficiency by orders of magnitude. This improvement in efficiency leads to more compact and lower mass reactor systems. Thermal and mass diffusion distances in microchannel reactors range from tens to hundreds of microns versus tens to hundreds of millimeters in conventional reactors. Slow heat and mass transfer dominate the operation of conventional reactor designs, thus limiting reaction kinetics. As is well known, catalytic efficiency increases with decreasing catalyst particle size (reflecting higher surface area per unit mass) and chemical reactivity frequently is enhanced at the nanoscale. By virtue of their nanoscale dimensions, nanotubes and nanorods geometrically restrict the catalyst particle size that can be supported upon the tube walls. By confining catalyst particles to sizes smaller than the CNT diameter, a more uniform catalyst particle size distribution may be maintained. The high dispersion provided by the vast surface area of the nanoscale material serves to retain the integrity of the catalyst by reducing sintering or coalescence. To maximize catalyst exposure, our design includes hierarchical support structures, consisting of a 3-d network of open pores within the microreactor structure, and finally the nanofabricated support. Additional advantages of the hierarchical catalyst support structure include minimal pressure drop (while providing superior catalyst contact) without the need to resort to fluidized bed configurations.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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