ECN publication
Removal of sulphur-containing odorants from natural gas for PEMFC-based micro-combined heat and power applications
Published by: Publication date:
ECN 1-11-2002
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-RX--02-059 Conference Paper
Number of pages: Full text:
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Presented at: Fuel Cell Seminar 2002, Palm Springs, USA, 18-21 november 2002.

Natural gas is an important feedstock for the production of hydrogenfor Polymer Electrolyte (or Proton Exchange) Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC's) for residential applications. Presently, much research efforts are carried out to develop small-scale catalytic fuel processors for on-site generation of hydrogen from natural gas. A typical residential power generator (RPG) may consist of several unit process steps such as fuel pretreatment (e.g. cleaning and preheating), catalytic partial oxidation, high and low temperature shift, preferential CO oxidation (PROX), PEMFC and off-gas treatment in the afterburner. In cases where the natural gas is to be used for residential purposes, naturally occurring sulphur compounds are first removed, and then sulphur containing odorants are added to odorise the otherwise odourless natural gas. Typical sulphur containing odorants are tetrahydrothiophene (THT), mercaptans, organic sulphides or mixtures thereof. In the Netherlands, and most of Europe, tetrahydrothiophene is used. Sulphur containing components present in the fuel processor fuel, are likely to be converted to H2S in the fuel processor section of the hydrogen generating system. To prevent detrimental effects on the catalysts in a typical PEMFC-based micro combined heat and power installation, sulphur removal from the natural gas feedstock is mandatory.

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