Development of a Butanol Fuel Processor for Person-Portable Fuel Cell Power Systems

Period of Performance: 10/15/2010 - 04/13/2011


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Fuelcell Energy, Inc.
3 Great Pasture Rd.
Danbury, CT 06813
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Minnesota
450 McNamara Alumni Center
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Institution POC


FuelCell Energy, Inc., in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, is proposing to develop an innovative fuel processor for person-portable fuel cell power system applications. The system will be designed to reform butanol into a hydrogen-rich stream suitable for use in a low-temperature Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell. The technical approach will focus on the development of a novel catalyst for the partial oxidation of butanol. Thermodynamic analyses will be performed to define the optimal system operating conditions, such as temperature(s) and air to fuel ratio(s). The catalyst design will be optimized and demonstrated in a laboratory-scale environment. A scaled-up fuel processor system design will be developed to supply a 75W PEM fuel cell with high-purity hydrogen for at least 72 hours. Integrated, multi-staged catalyst and heat transfer sections are envisioned to create a lightweight and compact package. 3-D Computer Aided Design (CAD) modeling will be performed to visualize and optimize the size and weight of the system. Results of this study will be applied to a more detailed design, development, and demonstration effort in Phase II.