Catacel’s foil-supported steam reforming catalyst system, trade-named Catacel SSR®, is delivering significant performance benefits to two commercial steam reformers in Turkey and Mexico. And in late 2014, these will be joined by two larger steam reformers, one in in the USA and the other in Brazil. The SSR system was chosen by these plant operators because SSR delivers heat transfer about 35 percent higher than the existing catalyst, at a similar pressure drop. Depending on the plant design, this higher heat transfer can be used to decrease tube temperatures by 50°C or more, reducing fuel consumption in the furnace by 20 percent or more, or enabling an increase in throughput in the reformer by 15 percent or more.
Catalyst-coated foil structures in the reformer tube improve heat transfer by continuously directing flow toward the tube wall. Impingement of the gas on the tube wall creates heat transfer that is considerably more effective than the typical convection mechanism, resulting in heat transfer that is 35 percent better than pellets at the same pressure drop.
The heat transfer mechanism only works when the clearance between structure and tube wall is maintained within tolerance. This creates a challenge when using such systems in used reformer tubes that have bulges or other dimensional variations. This challenge has been overcome by using an expandable foil structure that can be delivered in precise relationship with any tube wall.