Compact Fuel Processors for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) 2000-01-2007
Faced with tough emission standards, auto manufacturers have started looking into technologies that offer feasible alternatives to internal combustion engines. Fuel cells - especially proton exchanged membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) - offer many advantages including almost-zero emissions. However, fuel cells need hydrogen as a fuel to generate electricity. Epyx Corporation, a subsidiary of Arthur D. Little, Inc., has developed a fuel-processor design that reforms hydrocarbons such as gasoline and generates hydrogen - needed to run a fuel cell engine. The Epyx fuel processor is the first to be demonstrated for gasoline operation. In addition to its lightweight and compact configuration, the Epyx fuel processor operates on multiple fuels such as gasoline, ethanol, propane, methanol, and natural gas.
This paper gives a brief description of the Epyx automotive fuel processor system coupled with a PEMFC system. The emission and performance data, generated on a sub-50 kWe fuel cell power system, are presented at fractional and full power levels. These data clearly show that low emissions and high efficiency are possible from the current state-of-the-art fuel processor/PEMFC systems. Future developments needed to transform this technology from prototypes to commercial units are also discussed.