Fuel cell powered electric cars using on-board methanol reforming to produce a hydrogen-rich gas represent a low-emissions alternative to gasoline internal combustion engines (ICE). In order to exceed the well-to-wheel efficiencies of 17% for the gasoline ICE, high-efficiency fuel cells and methanol reformers must be developed. Catalytic autothermal reforming of methanol offers advantages over endothermic steam-reforming and exothermic partial oxidation. Microreactor testing of copper-containing catalysts was carried out in the temperature range between 250 and 330 degreesC showing nearly complete methanol conversion at 85% hydrogen yield. For the overall process a simplified model of the reaction network, consisting of the total oxidation of methanol, the reverse water-gas shift reaction, and the steam-reforming of methanol, is proposed. Individual kinetic measurements for the latter two reactions on a commercial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst are presented.
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