Table of ContentsCase StudySolution OfferedSuccess FactorsCustomer Gained ValuesAbout Catacel
Catacel were approached by a key North American Hydrogen Facility located in Guadalajara, Mexico which produces hydrogen to support manufacture of food ingredients. The plant in question was comprised of reformer tubes of differing ages, many of which were recently recharged with ceramic pellet catalysts in the recent past, (January 2012).
The plant operator was looking for a solution that would provide:
- A reduction in natural gas consumption
- The possibility of running the plant greater then its design capacity
- Having reformer tubes and cataysts with longer operational times
Catacel proposed use of their SSR metal foil structured catalyst for steam methane reforming.
After a comprehensive analysis and study was completed, the plant operator decided to substitute the ceramic catalyst media in all the reformer tubes with Catacel’s SSR steam methane reforming structured catalysts,see Figure 1. The installation was completed in May 2012 and required minimal downtime. The work was completed by plant staff supervised by Catacel. The installation procedure, which was quite easy and is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 1. Catacel SSR catalyst coated metal foil unit
Figure 2. The easy install was completed in two days by plant staff supervised by Catacel
The approach of Catacel to help enhance overall system performance integrates proprietary high-performance catalysts with foil substrates developed to offer superior heat transfer and increased surface area. Having integrated these two functions, the catalyst is put on custom-designed high surface area formed metal foil which also acts as a heat transfer media. The fins in each of the SSR units are arranged for superior heat transfer, which helps the use of lower furnace temperatures with extended tube and furnace life and overall system energy savings.
The heat transfer inside a reformer tube with both traditional ceramic media and also with the Catacel SSR delivery method is shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Heat transfer illustrated inside a reformer tube with traditional ceramic media and also the Catacel delivery method.
The catalytic surface area is about 2.5 times more than what is possible with ceramic media. The increased surface area also ensures that more active ingredients are available to the reaction.
Installation of the SSR catalyst coated formed metal foil units was done in 3-ft. long sections using tools designed by Catacel to slide the media down from the tube top as shown in Figure 4. On insertion, the special tool was utilized for the expansion of the metal foil to conform to the internal geometry of each tube. This installation required 72 sections made from a total of 1,912 SSR structures that were installed over two days.
Figure 4. Installation of SSR catalyst was done in 3-ft. long sections with tools designed by Catacel by sliding the media down from the tube top.
Initial reporting at 100% plant rate with the Catacel SSR showed a 13.5% reduction in natural gas consumption by the reformer burners over the nominal values of last few months and years of operation. Additionally, by bringing down the reformer furnace fuel feed, and consequently temperature at which the tubes are operated, it is projected that reformer tube life can be anticipated beyond design life.
With the ceramic catalyst, the plant was operating at 100% rate at furnace temperatures with a range from 885 to 916°C, with process reaction temperatures in the 800-815°C range. With the Catacel SSR catalyst coated metal foil inserts, the plant now runs at 100% rate at a furnace temperature of 859°C, which is a decrease of 26 to 57°C with similar reaction temperatures and no reduction to product capacity or quality. The tubes appear to be operating much cooler, showing that they were enjoying the benefit of lower furnace temperatures.
Furthermore, based on current natural gas pricing, the plant operators expect to see a ROI of the Catacel solution in 2.1 years, based solely on fuel savigs.
Customer Gained Values
Along with the impressive natural gas fuel savings, the SSR catalyst system will not fracture, clump together or form space voids, or increase tube pressure drop over time, as is typical for ceramic pellets. Furthermore, SSR’s increased geometric surface area will allow the SSR media to perform for the life of each tube. Catalyst media can have an increased impact on the furnace and tube temperatures that are required to achieve the needed reaction temperature. Ceramic media, with modest heat transfer capability, typically operate with a 90°C to 100°C temperature differential between media and tube. SSR media, with significantly better heat transfer capability, decreases that differential by 35°C or more. This allows the tubes to operate cooler, extending tube life.
Catacel create high-performance, low cost reactor solutions by combining catalytic and heat transfer functions, enabling breakthroughs in production and energy efficiency.
For today’s fuel cell, hydrogen, gas-to-liquid and numerous other industries, Catacel’s technology creates high-performance reactors that are smaller, lighter, lower cost or more energy efficient than alternatives. In other situations, the reactors enable standard designs to achieve higher production rates.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Catacel.
For more information on this source, please visit Catacel.