Membranes (Basel). 2022 Jul 28;12(8):741. doi: 10.3390/membranes12080741.
Membrane reactors (MR) with an appropriate catalyst are considered to be an innovative and intensified technology for converting a fuel into the hydrogen-rich gas with the simultaneous recovery of high-quality hydrogen. Characteristics of an asymmetric membrane disk module consisting of a gas-tight nanocomposite functional coating (Ni + Cu/Nd5.5WO11.25-δ mixed proton-electron conducting nanocomposite) deposited on a gas-permeable functionally graded substrate has previously been extensively studied at lab-scale using MRs, containing the catalyst in a packed bed and in the form of a monolith. The catalytic monolith consisted of a FeCrAl substrate with a washcoat and an Ni + Ru/Pr0.35Ce0.35Zr0.35O2 active component. It has been shown that the driving potential for hydrogen permeation across the same membrane in a monolithic catalyst -assisted MR is greater compared to the packed bed catalyst. This paper presents results of the study where a one-dimensional isothermal model was used to interrelate catalytic and permeation phenomena in a MR with ethanol steam reforming over the monolith, operating at atmospheric pressure and in the temperature range of 700-900 °C. The developed mathematical reaction-transport model for the constituent layers of the catalyst-asymmetric membrane assembly together with a Sieverts’ equation for the functional dense layer, taking also into account the effect of boundary layers, was implemented in a COMSOL Multiphysics environment. Good agreement with the experimental data of the lab-scale MR with reasonable parameters values is provided. In numerical experiments, concentration profiles along the reactor axis were obtained, showing the effect of the emerging concentration gradient in the boundary layer adjacent to the membrane. Studies have shown that a MR with a catalytic monolith along with appropriate organization of a stagnant feed flow between the monolith and the membrane surface may enhance production and flux of hydrogen, as well as the efficiency characteristics of the reactor compared to a reactor with packed beds.