Solar steam reforming for enriched methane production: Reactor configurations modeling and comparison

M. De Falco, G. Caputo, S. Frattari, F. Gironi, M.C. Annesini

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A solar low-temperature steam reforming process for the production of an Enriched Methane (EM) mixture composed by CH4and H2(20%vol) exploiting the solar energy stored in a Molten Salt stream heated up by a Concentrating Solar Plant (MS-CSP) is presented and simulated through a two-dimensional steam reforming reactor model. Two configurations are considered and compared: the Integrated Heat Exchanging (IHE) configuration, where the steam reformers are tubes-and-shell reactors continuously heated up by the hot MS stream, and the External Heat Exchanging (EHE) configuration composed by a series of heat exchangers and insulated reformers where the reactions are adiabatically driven. The effect of the main operating conditions as Gas Hourly Space Velocity (GHSV), inlet reactor temperature and reactant mixture composition is assessed for both the configurations, demonstrating the process feasibility. Furthermore, in order to increase the process performance, an electrical power generation unit is also included, exploiting the sensible heat of the residual MS stream after the EM production unit: in this case, with a feed of 2000 Nm3/h of natural gas, about 6130 Nm3/h of enriched methane and 475 kWelare produced with the EHE configuration, while 3720 Nm3/h and 585 kWelare obtained with IHE configuration. © 2014, Hydrogen Energy Publications, LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13979 - 13990
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology

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