An Overview of the Methanol Reforming Process: Comparison of Fuels, Catalysts, Reformers, and Systems

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International Journal of Energy Research


One of the main challenges facing power generation by fuel cells involves the difficulties related to hydrogen storage. Several methods have been suggested and studied by researchers to overcome this problem. Among these methods, using fuel reformers as a component of the fuel cell system is a practical and promising alternative to hydrogen storage. Among many hydrogen carrier fuels used in reformers, methanol is one of the most attractive ones because of its distinctive properties. To design and improve of the methanol reformate gas fuel cell systems, different aspects such as promising market applications for reformate gas–fueled fuel cell systems, and catalysts for methanol reforming should be considered. Therefore, our goal in this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview on the past and recent studies regarding methanol reforming technologies, while considering different aspects of this topic. Firstly, different fuel reforming processes are briefly explained in the first section of the paper. Then properties of various fuels and reforming of these fuels are compared, and the characteristics of commercial reformate gas–fueled systems are presented. The main objective of the first section of the paper is to give information about studies and market applications related to reformation of various fuels to understand advantages and disadvantages of using various fuels for different practical applications. In the next sections of the paper, advancements in the methanol reforming technology are explained. The methanol reforming catalysts and reaction kinetics studies by various researchers are reviewed, and the advantages and disadvantages of each catalyst are discussed, followed by presenting the studies accomplished on different types of reformers. The effects of operating parameters on methanol reforming are also discussed. In the last section of this paper, methanol reformate gas–fueled fuel cell systems are reviewed. Overall, this review paper provides insight to researchers on what has been accomplished so far in the field of methanol reforming for fuel cell power generation applications to better plan the next stage of studies in this field.