Fuel cells require pure hydrogen or hydrogen-rich gas mixtures as fuel. The conversion of gases or liquids into hydrogen-rich gas is referred to as reforming, and the full process chain is known as fuel processing (BGE).
Work at IEK-3 focuses on reforming middle distillates (kerosene, diesel, and light heating oil) and diesel-like biofuels. After reforming, substances like carbon monoxide and possibly hydrogen sulfide have to be removed from the resulting gas. The steam required for the reforming process is made available via a catalytic burner, which combusts the fuel cell’s residual gases with few emissions. A fuel processing system comprises these core components, heat exchangers, pumps, and the fuel cell. In-house HT-PEFC stacks are used preferentially as fuel cells in the 5–10 kWe systems currently being developed. The aim is to use such systems in auxiliary power units for mobile applications. Aircraft applications are a priority and appropriate desulfurization processes are being explored for commercial kerosene.