In this study, a micro-structured catalytic hollow fiber membrane reactor (CHFMR) has been prepared, characterized and evaluated for performing steam methane reforming (SMR) reaction, using Rh/CeO2 as the catalyst and a palladium membrane for separating hydrogen from the reaction. Preliminary studies on a catalytic hollow fiber (CHF), a porous membrane reactor configuration without the palladium membrane, revealed that stable methane conversions reaching equilibrium values can be achieved, using approximately 36 mg of 2 wt.%Rh/CeO2 catalyst incorporated inside the micro-channels of alumina hollow fibre substrates (around 7 cm long in the reaction zone). This proves the advantages of efficiently utilizing catalysts in such a way, such as significantly reduced external mass transfer resistance when compared with conventional packed bed reactors. It is interesting to observe catalyst deactivation in CHF when the quantity of catalyst incorporated is less than 36 mg, although the Rh/CeO2 catalyst supposes to be quite resistant against carbon formation. The “shift” phenomenon expected in CHFMR was not observed by using 100 mg of 2 wt.%Rh/CeO2 catalyst, mainly due to the less desired catalyst packing at the presence of the dense Pd separating layer. Problems of this type were solved by using 100 mg of 4 wt.% Rh/CeO2 as the catalyst in CHFMR, resulting in methane conversion surpassing the equilibrium conversions and no detectable deactivation of the catalyst. As a result, the improved methodology of incorporating catalyst into the micro-channels of CHFMR is the key to a more efficient membrane reactor design of this type, for both the SMR in this study and the other catalytic reforming reactions.
Prasetya, N., Wu, Z., Gil, A. G., & Li, K. (2017). Compact hollow fibre reactors for efficient methane conversion. Journal of the European Ceramic Society, 37(16), 5281–5287. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeurceramsoc.2017.04.011