Advanced multi-fuel Reformer for CHP-fuel CELL systems

Project Information
Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Stationary power production and CHP

Key Objectives of the project

REforCELL aims at developing a high efficient PEM fuel cell micro Combined Heat and Power cogeneration system based on a novel, more efficient and cheaper hydrogen reformer together to the new design of the subcomponent for the Balance of Plant (BoP).

The main focus of REforCELL is to develop a new multi-fuel membrane reformer for pure hydrogen production (5 Nm3/h) based on Catalytic Membrane Reactors in order to intensify the process of hydrogen production through the integration of reforming and purification in one single unit. The novel reactor will be more efficient than the state-of-the-art technology due to an optimal design aimed at circumventing mass and heat transfer resistances. Moreover, the design and optimization of the subcomponents for the BoP will be also addressed.


Challenges/issues addressed

ReforCELL will focus on the optimization of the whole system in order to achieve the best compromise between efficiency and costs. The general objective is directly related to the development of the novel catalytic membrane reactor (CMR) for hydrogen production with improved performance, enhanced efficiency, long durability, clean environmental operating conditions and safety aspects for its integration in domestic CHP systems. A life cycle assessment will be performed to determine the sustainability and recyclability of the process and its individual component. In addition, the integration and validation of this new reformer into the PEM fuel cell micro-CHP system will be the other main activity addressed in ReforCELL. The target is a net electric efficiency higher than 42% using natural gas as fuel and an overall efficiency higher than 90 %.


Technical approach/objectives

The REforCELL project structure is focused on efficiency improvement of the overall m-CHP system based on PEM fuel cell and innovative multi-fuel processor. Furthermore, the novel materials and components will be implemented in CHP for proof of concept and validation. Therefore, the technical approach is based on the following main activities:

The project starts within the industrial specifications for the PEM fuel cell CHP system. Next step includes the development of new catalyst materials and membranes and their integration in lab-scale CMR novel designs to validate the proof of principles at lab-scale. Following this, a pilot prototype will be design, set-up, tested and validated for the proof of concept. This prototype will be integrated in the new PEM fuel cell m-CHP that will be design, build and tested in the frame of project. Besides, modelling and simulation tools will use at the level of reactors and processes. Finally, life cycle assessment (LCA) will be performed on the overall m-CHP system

The key milestones or deliverables in the frame of the project are the validation of the lab-scale reactors at month 20, the validation of the pilot scale prototype at month 30 and the validation of the m-CHP system at month 36.


Expected socio and economic impact

Conversion of natural gas into hydrogen and its use for electricity and heat production allows saving about 50% of energy together with CO2 emissions reduction. For this reason, a wide application of CHP is considered fundamental by European Union as well as National Governments to achieve the target of 20-20-20.  A target cost of 5000 €/kWel by 2020 has been proposed to enlarge the use of residential micro-CHP systems. This target could only be achieved by a significant reduction of the cost of the different components of the system. The cost of the reformer is an important part of the overall cost accounting for 25 % of overall costs in domestic micro-CHP. In this context, REforCELL aims to develop an advanced reformer for CHP applications. The project will directly impact: performance of individual components of fuel cell systems, optimization of interaction between BoP components and mature stacks, components which are viable for mass production, lifetime, cost and recyclability.

Project details
Project reference: 
SP1-JTI-FCH.2010.3.3 Component improvement for stationary power applications
Project type: 
Research and technological development
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
End date: 
Thursday, December 31, 2015
36 months (originally), extended to 47 months
Project cost: 
€ 5,546,194.57
Project funding: 
€ 2,857,211


Mr. Alberto Garcia Luis
Other participating organisations: 
Eindhoven University of Technology The Netherlands
Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique France
Politecnico di Milano Italy
ICI caldaie S.P.A. Italy
HyGear BV The Netherlands
Hybrid Catalysis BV The Netherlands
Quantis Sàrl Switzerland