Philip Engelhardt

Oel-Waerme-Institut GmbH, Germany

Title: Mobile fuel cell system based on a diesel steam reformer and a PEFC


Philip Engelhardt has studied architcture and energy engineering at Dartmouth College and RWTH Aachen University and has completed his PhD from RWTH Aachen University. After working as a project engineer at Oel-Waerme-Institut GmbH, he is currently engaged at the intersection between engineering and modern architecture at the Institute for Building Technology at RWTH Aachen University. He has published several papers in reputed journals and has been serving as a reviewer for the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.


Fuel cell systems based on diesel steam reforming and polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC) offer a great potential for auxiliary power units (APU) in mobile applications. In a joint research project with partners from industry, Oel-Waerme-Institut GmbH is developing an integrated fuel cell system for mobile power generation in caravans and yachts. The system is based on a diesel steam reformer and allows the operation of low-temperature (LT-) as well as high-temperature (HT-) PEFC. In preceding investigations of the author's group, coupled operation of a steam reformer with an LT-PEFC was demonstrated using a sulfur-free surrogate fuel. Furthermore, the results of a fuel processor optimization regarding start-up, system integration, reformer geometry, and reformer catalyst performance have been reported. The focus of this work is the coupled operation of the steam reformer and an LT-PEFC using logistic diesel from a gas station as a fuel. An optimized reformer catalyst was used for these investigations, which has shown excellent performance with regards to fuel conversion for a thermal input of up to 10 kW even at reformer temperatures as low as 700°C. A single-stage preferential oxidation reactor was included to achieve the CO concentration required by the LT-PEFC. The effect of sulfur and residual hydrocarbons on the PEFC performance was investigated. The system design was optimized for fast system start-up and high system efficiency. Based on the results of the optimization, an autarkic fuel processor with balance of plant components for stand-alone operation is developed. This research and development project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi, FKZ 03ET2052A).

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