Stackable Structural Reactor (SSR®), the breakthrough structured catalyst for steam methane reforming manufactured by Ohio-based Catacel Corp., is one of the products featured by Spinoff 2013, NASA’s premier annual publication featuring successfully commercialized technologies.
The article recounts the early days of the development of SSR, which was originally targeted for jet fuel reforming for fuel cells aboard commercial aircraft. In the course of research on reduced emissions auxiliary power units, undertaken at NASA Glenn Research Center, the Glenn team partnered with Catacel Corp., first through the Glenn Alliance Technology Exchange program, and later through a Space Act Agreement. NASA program engineers determined that Catacel’s SSR demonstrated a two-times-higher heat transfer rate than industry-standard catalysts, meaning the fuel reforming process could take place at lower temperatures and produce the same amount of reformate, with significantly less energy expended.
On the strength of those results, The NASA-Catacel program then modified and tested a near-commercial-size SSR system for industrial hydrogen production, with which SSR demonstrated fuel reductions and cost savings of nearly 35 percent. This huge reduction in fuel can mean savings of millions of dollars annually by large steam methane reformers that produce hydrogen for ammonia or methanol production, oil refining and many other industrial processes. Now with SSR commercially available and being installed into industrial reformers worldwide, Catacel is proud of its early heritage with NASA and the technology incubation that NASA enabled.
Catacel SSR catalyst for steam methane reforming uses structured foil substrates that increase heat transfer from the reformer furnace to the reaction taking place inside the reformer tubes. SSR has demonstrated that increased hydrogen syngas throughput can be achieved in commercial reformers operating at 30 percent lower energy consumption, with 100 percent ROI demonstrated in as quickly as 14 months.