Producing small volumes of pure hydrogen when you need it, where you need it is no easy task – especially if you consume less than 300 standard cubic metres per hour. This is because conventional steam reformer technologies could not be operated cost- effectively on this scale in the past. To overcome this limitation, Linde teamed up with Austrian company Plansee SE and Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology to develop the palladium membrane reformer.
Converting natural gas into hydrogen
The innovative tubular membranes are made up of three layers: a porous metallic support, a ceramic diffusion barrier layer and an outer palladium layer. Natural gas and steam are fed into the reformer at temperatures of up to 650 degrees Celsius and converted into hydrogen after the catalyst reforming step. The hydrogen passes through the selective membrane on the tubes, which are also installed in the reformer, leaving the other gas components behind. The hydrogen that then flows through the centre of the tube is pure and does not require any further purification. All of which makes this innovative technology extremely efficient, compact and easy to use.
Palladium membrane reformer: The porous diffusion barrier layer is highly selective, resulting in a stream of pure hydrogen inside the tube (permeate side).