Post reforming Johnson Matthey

Johnson Matthey is able to provide the proprietary autothermal, compact and post reforming technologies, and offers KATALCO catalyst for these novel reforming applications.

Johnson Matthey range of novel reforming technologies:

Johnson Matthey's CATACEL SSR is a premium, high performance, catalytic solution for the steam reforming process for the production of hydrogen from natural gas. The stackable structural reactor is a precision assembly made from a special grade of high temperature stainless steel foil, which is coated with a reforming catalyst. Individual CATACEL SSR assemblies are stacked one upon another to fill the catalysed length of each reformer tube. The steel foil has an expansion rate similar to that of the tube, and will expand and contract in unison with the tube. Due to the unique CATACEL coating know-how developed over 25 years, the catalyst adheres durably to the foil during these thermal events.

Due to its significantly higher heat transfer, the CATACEL SSR can provide a significant capacity increase to reformers that have been upgraded with this technology solution. Alternatively, the higher heat transfer of CATACEL SSR can enable lower furnace temperatures with consequent energy savings and extended tube and furnace life. Furthermore, if a new steam reformer is designed to operate with CATACEL SSR then the combination of the elevated heat transfer, low pressure drop and high activity of this technology allows a 10% - 20% reduction in the number of tubes within the reformer box compared to standard pelleted catalysts".

The ceramic media in conventional steam reformers can be directly replaced with CATACEL SSR. The corrugation/flow channels in the CATACEL SSR are key to its performance. They are positioned such that conductive, convective, and radiant heat from the reformer tubes can easily be transferred to ALL the working catalytic surfaces. By contrast, catalyst near the center of the conventional ceramic system is not well heated, and is largely ineffective. The special CATACEL SSR flow geometry leads to improved overall catalytic performance, resulting in increased capacity and/or lower system cost.
CATACEL SSR when installed as a direct like for like replacement for pelleted catalysts can generate significant return compared to the higher catalyst cost over the short term. This is especially the case if the plant can be released from tube wall temperature limits, pressure drop constraints and extra firing capacity can be employed, at which point increases in margin several times the additional cost of the CATACELJM SSR catalyst can be generated.

Autothermal Reformers (ATR)
An ATR couples the endothermic steam reforming reaction with the exothermic partial oxidation reaction and can be combined with a SMR or GHR.  Johnson Matthey has over 30 years of experience on air and oxygen fired ATRS.  Our ATR technology features a refractory lined vessel, the feed gas and a separate oxygen stream mix via a proprietary mixing device. The gases combust, generating heat for the reforming reactions.  At the base of the ATR, the remaining methane reacts endothermically with the steam over a fixed catalyst bed.  Provided a cost effective source of oxygen is available, for light hydrocarbon feeds this enables a low energy route to hydrogen production. 
Johnson Matthey provide a range of catalyst suitable for ATRs, ranging from standard nickel based catalysts to specialised platinum group metal catalysts on proprietary ceramic supports.

Gas Heated Reformers (GHR)
The GHR is a convective heat exchanger reformer with catalyst positioned inside the annulus of the bayonet tubes.  The reaction heat is supplied by the exit gas from a SMR or ATR which flows counter-current to the natural gas steam feed mixture.  The intensified heat transfer dramatically reduces the size of the reformer and decouples the process and power systems.  It is the most energy efficient and environmentally sound syngas generation process available giving the lowest CO2/NOx emissions and water demand.  The full benefits of the GHR based process are apparent in comparisons with conventional schemes using a SMR. 

  • Efficiency improvement/reduction in energy usage of up to 10%
  • Up to 40% reduction in CO2 emissions
  • Reduction in water demand by up to 90%
  • Reduction in heat rejected by up to 25%

For plants considering a revamp to uprate the capacity, then a GHR could be an ideal option.

Catalyst for GHRs and other post reformers and parallel reformers are available from Johnson Matthey.

Compact Reforming
Developed in collaboration with BP, the compact reformer combines combustion, heat recovery and reaction into a simple tubular module. Unlike the SMR, the compact reformer is based upon a compact mechanical design, employing counter-current, largely convective heat exchange to intensify the reforming process.  As a result, the compact reformer can achieve a similar output to an SMR with a greatly reduced footprint.  The unit is prefabricated and modular, thus providing easy transport and site fabrication thus making it ideal for remote or offshore locations.

Johnson Matthey's Compact Reformer design features a refractory-lined vessel houses vertical, closely-packed reaction tubes containing conventional reforming catalyst. These tubes are interspersed with downward-firing fuel tubes on the shell-side, which allow the air/fuel combustion to provide the heat source for the reforming reaction.  Natural gas and steam enter the reformer's base and proceed up the reaction tubes. The reactants are pre-heated by counter-current cooling of the exhaust flue gas.  Natural gas and steam enter the reformer's base and proceed up the reaction tubes. The reactants are pre-heated by counter-current cooling of the exhaust flue gas.  The steam, which has been added to the natural gas feed upstream, is present in excess so as to drive the reforming reaction equilibria to a lower concentration of unconverted methane. The gas exiting the top of the reformer includes syngas (CO, CO2 and H2), unreacted methane and water in the form of steam.  The product stream cools by counter current pre-heating of the incoming fuel and air, and then collects in a header and passes out of the device.  The intrinsic heat recovery in the design results in a much lower process outlet temperature than in a conventional steam methane reformer, delivering an overall increase in reforming process efficiency.  The compact reformer utilises its flue gases to pre-heat its process feed.  This significantly lowers the flue gas outlet temperature, reducing the size of the flue gas waste heat recovery system.

Product bulletins:
Bulletins for all of our KATALCO and CATACEL SSR products are available through our KATALCO  customer login area.