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Indian researchers developing non-catalytic diesel autothermal reformer for on-board hydrogen generation

A team from the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar has designed and built a non-catalytic autothermal reformer for liquid hydrocarbons for on-board hydrogen generation. To date, they have achieved a carbon conversion of 88% with an overall reformer efficiency of 82%.

They expect further conversion and efficiency improvements once a more efficient reacting mixer is introduced upstream of this reformer, leading to improved technology readiness levels.

A paper on their work is published in the journal Fuel.

The energy density and wide availability of logistic fuels such as JP8 and diesel continue to hold importance as energy carriers for strategic applications. In some fuel cell system applications, such logistic fuels must be reformed on-board to a hydrogen-rich syngas. The relatively well-studied catalytic reforming presents numerous challenges including soot formation and catalyst deactivation when used for commercial or military grade diesel.

… catalytic reforming is essentially ineffective within a few hours of continuous operation in the presence of sulfur-containing liquid hydrocarbon fuels. As an alternative, non-catalytic autothermal reforming (ATR) presents a viable option for converting such liquid hydrocarbon fuels to syngas, and to our knowledge, only a handful of studies have been conducted in this area. In the present study, we have attempted to establish a preliminary understanding of the non-catalytic reforming process, and to identify directions for improving process efficiencies. Here, we report experiments conducted on a non-catalytic reformer with commercial diesel at various O/C and S/C ratios, and draw further insights into the process.

—Kumar et al.


  • Ravinder Kumar, Mahesh M. Haridasan, Inzamam Ahmad, Atul Bhargav, Suman Roy Choudhuri (2024) “A non-catalytic diesel autothermal reformer for on-board hydrogen generation,” Fuel, Volume 358, Part B doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2023.130251



From the article:
“This study investigates the non-catalytic ATR reformer with commercial diesel as a fuel for marine applications.”
This Autothermal Reformer combined with an Air Separation Unit (ASU) to produce oxygen and avoid the contamination of hydrogen with nitrogen, plus a CO2 Capture and storage (CCS) system - probably cryogenic - would make pretty good “Blue” Hydrogen that could be fed to a Marine diesel.
Since it would be using Very Low Sulfur Fuel Oil (VLSFO) which is widely available and already used in shipping, this could greatly reduce CO2 emissions economically compared to other alternative fuel options, e.g. Methanol or LNG combined with CCS.


Hi temp PEM along with auto thermal would be a good combination.


My take is to retrofit existing Ships with this technology.
In this research, a Fuel Vaporizer is added before the ATR where diesel fuel is atomized in a Danfoss nozzle with 330 degree °C steam. This could be scaled up with a Johnson Matthey LCH technology ATR (which has an Air Separation Unit) combined with a Honeywell Carbon Capture System. The Diesel Engine would need to be a modified to burn Hydrogen., e.g. CMB.TECH.

Johnson Matthey LCH Technology
Honeywell CCS

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