Auto-thermal reforming using mixed ion-electronic conducting ceramic membranes for a small-scale H₂ production plant

Molecules. 2015 Mar 18;20(3):4998-5023. doi: 10.3390/molecules20034998.


The integration of mixed ionic electronic conducting (MIEC) membranes for air separation in a small-to-medium scale unit for H2 production (in the range of 650-850 Nm3/h) via auto-thermal reforming of methane has been investigated in the present study. Membranes based on mixed ionic electronic conducting oxides such as Ba0.5Sr0.5Co0.8Fe0.2O3-δ (BSCF) give sufficiently high oxygen fluxes at temperatures above 800 °C with high purity (higher than 99%). Experimental results of membrane permeation tests are presented and used for the reactor design with a detailed reactor model. The assessment of the H2 plant has been carried out for different operating conditions and reactor geometry and an energy analysis has been carried out with the flowsheeting software Aspen Plus, including also the turbomachines required for a proper thermal integration. A micro-gas turbine is integrated in the system in order to supply part of the electricity required in the system. The analysis of the system shows that the reforming efficiency is in the range of 62%-70% in the case where the temperature at the auto-thermal reforming membrane reactor (ATR-MR) is equal to 900 °C. When the electric consumption and the thermal export are included the efficiency of the plant approaches 74%-78%. The design of the reactor has been carried out using a reactor model linked to the Aspen flowsheet and the results show that with a larger reactor volume the performance of the system can be improved, especially because of the reduced electric consumption. From this analysis it has been found that for a production of about 790 Nm3/h pure H2, a reactor with a diameter of 1 m and length of 1.8 m with about 1500 membranes of 2 cm diameter is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ceramics / chemistry*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Hydrogen / chemistry*
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Permeability
  • Surface Properties
  • Temperature


  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Hydrogen