Hydrogen produced from biodiesel in micro-channel steam reformer

Long Beach, CA, Mar. 15, 2006 — InnovaTek Inc. and Seattle BioFuels Inc. announced the first successful production of hydrogen from 100% biodiesel in a micro-channel steam reformer.

InnovaTek’s reforming system was initially developed to produce hydrogen from fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel. This is the first time a renewable fuel source has been used to produce hydrogen in a micro-channel steam reformer to power emission free fuel cells, according to a recent press release from InnovaTek.

In addition to biodiesel, InnovaTek has also used its technology to produce hydrogen from glycerol (a byproduct of biodiesel production), and the raw soybean oil that is used to manufacture the biodiesel fuel. The use of glycerol as a source for hydrogen has the additional advantage of producing a valuable commodity from a byproduct of biodiesel production. This benefit contributes favorably to the economics of biodiesel as a fuel that is competitive with petroleum diesel fuel, said InnovaTek.

InnovaTek has successfully demonstrated the ability to generate hydrogen from pure biodiesel (B100) produced at the Seattle Biodiesel production facility. Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. The fuel can be burned directly in diesel engines without any modifications to the engine. For cleaner, more efficient electrical power production, biodiesel can be reformed to produce hydrogen for a fuel cell.
One of the features of InnovaTek’s technology is the use of micro- or milli-channel geometries for the catalytic reactor and heat exchangers. Micro-channel reactors offer some distinct advantages over conventional reactors (tubular or vessel), including inherent safety, compact size, and high conversion rates. The micro-channel reformer achieved a 100% conversion rate of the pure biodiesel (B100).

Since hydrogen is a secondary energy carrier, the complete fuel cycle from primary energy source to final application must be considered when judging its environmental relevance. The advantage of hydrogen production from biomass is that renewable energy sources can be utilized thereby reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and eliminating pollutant and climate-affecting emissions, said InnovaTek.

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