Integrated low temperature methanol steam reforming and high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell

Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Early markets


The main objectives of BeingEnergy are:

  1. Synthesizing, characterizing, and optimizing =catalysts for low temperature methanol steam reforming (LT-MSR, 170°C) and developing strategies for industrial preparation of the selected catalysts;
  2. Development, characterization and optimization of a cell-reactor for the LT-MSR;
  3. Integration, characterization and optimization of the low temperature methanol steam reforming reactors with a high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (HT-PEMFC);
  4. Development, characterization and optimization of the LT-MSR/HT-PEMFC 350 We prototype.

Achievements to date

The research team has developed a Pd/ZnO MSR catalyst with 4 times more activity per active metal loading than the conventional CuO/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst G66 MR from Süd Chemie.The CO selectivity of the developed catalyst is 2.8 %, whereas in the conventional CuO/ZnO/Al2O3 the selectivity is 8.0 % for the same kinetic conditions.


BeingEnergy targets the development of a compact, easy to use power supply based on the synergetic integration in a stack of HT-PEMFC and LT-MSR reactor cells by using a very active new reforming catalyst. This new power supply will contribute towards strengthening the European portable FC industry by developing a prototype that is capable of entering the market in the near term.

The new power supply will meet the EU requirements for weight and volume power density, starting up time, cost and lifetime.


Hydrogen is foreseen to be the energy vector of the future. However, there are still significant barriers surrounding the capacity to store and transport it, especially in small portable applications. The success of a portable Fuel Cell system depends to a large extent, on the fuel supply that should be accomplished in a cost effective and comfortable manner.

The present project proposes a power supply comprising a methanol steam reformer and high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (HT-PEMFC) which operates at the same temperature. The heat integration of these two units originates an increase of up to 14% of the overall efficiency; when reformer and fuel cell operate at the same temperature, the heat involved in the endothermic steam reforming reaction can be supplied by the highly exothermic fuel cell. Moreover, the heat integration also creates a much simpler and compact unit and then robust power supply that can meet and exceed the targets defined by the project call. Due to the catalysts’ characteristics and the low operating temperature, the reformer originates a reformate stream poor in CO (<0.1%), which increases the performance and lifetime of the fuel cell. This remarkable improvement is primarily possible because of the development achieved by a team member of a very high active methanol steam reforming catalyst family that can catalyze this reaction effectively at temperatures as low as 170°C. The new integrated power supply will be a landmark in the development of a fuel cell power supply for mass consumption. Additionally, it is considered the development and study of a composite palladium membrane for incorporating in the reformer and of an ionic liquid supported polymer membrane, selective for CO2 removal from reformate streams operating up to 200°C and the characterization of developed catalysts towards the low temperature steam reforming of dimethyl ether. These are fundamental developments needed for the foreseen new generation of combined power supplies.

Project reference: 
SP1-JTI-FCH.2011.4.4: Research, development and demonstration of new portable Fuel Cell systems
Project type: 
Basic and long-term research
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Saturday, September 1, 2012
End date: 
Monday, February 29, 2016
36 months (originally), extended to 42 months
Project cost: 
4,220,423.40 €
Project funding: 
2,245,244 €

Organisation Universidade do Porto (UPorto), Portugal

Mr Adélio MENDES
Contact email: 
Other participating organisations: 
Organisation Country
Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR) Germany
Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus (VTT) Finland
SerEnergy A/S Denmark
Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche (ITM-CNR) Italy
Universidad Politecnica de Valencia (UPVLC-ITQ) Spain
Inovamais - Serviços de Consultadoria em Inovação Tecnológica S.A. (INOVA+) Portugal
RHODIA Operations (Rhodia) France


Publisheable Reports: 
Katarzyna Morawa Eblagon, Patricia Heydorn Concepción, Hugo Silva, Adélio Mendes Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 154 Ultra selective low temperature steam reforming of methanol over PdZn/ZnO catalysts – Influence of support defects on catalytic performance
A. Iulianelli, P. Ribeirinha, A. Mendes, A. Basile Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 29 Methanol steam reforming for hydrogen generation via membrane reactores: a review
K. Ghasemzadeh, P. Morrone, S. Liguori, A.A. Babaluo, A. Basile International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 38 Evaluation of silica membrane reactor performance for hydrogen production via methanol steam reforming: Modelling study
K. Ghasemzadeh, S. Liguori, P. Morrone, A. Iulianelli, V. Piemonte, A.A. Babaluo, A. Basile International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 38 H2 Production by Low Pressure Methanol Steam Reforming in a Dense Pd-Ag Membrane Reactor in Co-Current Flow Configuration: Experimental and Modelling Analysis
K. Ghasemzadeh, P. Morrone, A. Iulianelli, S. Liguori, A.A. Babaluo, A. Basile International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 38 H2 production in silica membrane reactor via methanol steam reforming: Modelling and HAZOP analysis
Liguori S., Iulianelli A., Dalena F., Pinacci P., Drago F., Broglia M., Huang Y., Basile A. Membranes 2014 Performance and long-term stability of Pd/PSS and Pd/Al2O3 membranes for hydrogen separation
Hugo Silva, Cecilia Mateos-Pedrero, Paulo Ribeirinha, Marta Boaventura, Adelio Mendes Reaction Kinetics, Mechanisms and Catalysis 115 Low-Temperature Methanol Steam Reforming Kinetics over a novel CuZrDyAl Catalyst
P. Ribeirinha, M. Boaventura, José Carlos B. Lopes, José M. Sousa, A. Mendes International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 39 Study of different designs of methanol steam reformers: Experiment and modeling