Hydrogen production from methanol rather than the traditional source, methane, is considered to be advantageous in ease of transportation and storage. However, the current copper-based catalysts utilized in methanol steam reforming are associated with challenges of sintering at high temperature and production of CO which could poison fuel cells. In addressing these challenges, ZnO nanorods were grown hydrothermally on the surface of cordierite and impregnated with Cu to produce catalysts for methanol steam reforming. The catalysts were characterized using SEM, XRD, FTIR, XPS, BET and Raman Spectroscopy. A fixed-bed reactor was used for testing the catalysts while the reaction products were characterized using a GC fitted with FID and TCD. The effects of temperature, methanol concentration and particle size of catalysts on methanol steam reforming were investigated. The experiments were carried out between 180 and 350 °C. CO selectivity of 0% was observed for temperatures between 180 and 230 °C for 0.8 MeOH:1H2O with an average H2 selectivity of 98% for that temperature range. XPS showed that the catalyst was relatively unchanged after reaction while Raman spectroscopy revealed coke formation on the catalyst surface for reactions carried out above 300 °C. This shows that the catalyst is active and selective for the reaction.
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