A catalytic hollow fibre membrane reactor for combined steam methane reforming and water gas shift reaction

Ana Gouveia Gil, Zhentao Wu, David Chadwick, K. Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A catalytic hollow fibre membrane reactor (CHFMR) was developed in this study for combined steam methane reforming (SMR) and water gas shift (WGS) reaction. This is achieved by incorporating a Ni/SBA-15 catalyst into a plurality of micro-channels with open entrance from inner surface of Al2O3 hollow fibres, followed by coating of a 3.3μm Pd membrane on the outer surface of the hollow fibre using an electroless plating method. In addition to systematic characterizations of each reactor component, i.e. Ni/SBA-15 catalyst, micro-structured ceramic hollow fibre and Pd separating layer, the effect of how the reactor was assembled or fabricated on the catalytic performance was evaluated. Electroless plating of the Pd membrane impaired the catalytic performance of the deposited Ni/SBA-15 catalyst. Also, the over-removal of hydrogen from the reaction zone was considered as the main reason for the deactivation of the Ni-based catalyst. Instead of mitigating such deactivation using "compensating" hydrogen, starting the reaction at higher temperatures was found more efficient in improving the reactor performance, due to a better match between hydrogen production (from the reaction) and hydrogen removal (from the Pd membrane). An effective methane conversion of approximately 53%, a CO2 selectivity of 94% and a H2 recovery of 43% can be achieved at 560°C. In order for a more significant "shift" phenomenon, alternative methodology of fabricating the reactor and more coke resistant catalysts are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-372
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • Catalytic hollow fibre membrane reactor
  • H production
  • Ni/SBA-15 catalyst
  • Pd membrane
  • Steam methane reforming
  • Water-gas shift


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