DOW Seminar Series: "On-Board Fuel Reforming for SOFC-based Auxiliary Power Units"

by Dr. Johannes W. Schwank, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director Transportation Energy Center, University of Michigan
Event Date: December 2, 2008
Speaker: Dr. Johannes W. Schwank
Speaker Affiliation: Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director Transportation Energy Center, University of Michigan
Time: 3:30 - 4:30 pm
Location: FRNY G140


Reforming of liquid fuels on board of vehicles is an attractive option for fuel-cell powered auxiliary power unit (APU) applications in heavy duty vehicles. A major technological barrier, however, is the susceptibility of reforming catalysts to deactivation by carbon deposited during catalyst operation. This is especially of concern in on-board applications where fuel reforming has to be carried out with relatively low steam/carbon ratios, due to the limited availability of water. Furthermore, transportation fuels tend to contain sulfur that acts as catalyst poison.

In this seminar, the effect of carbon deposition and exposure to sulfur compounds is explored for monolith-supported nickel catalysts, and strategies for developing deactivation resistant catalysts are discussed.


Johannes Schwank holds a Ph. D. degree from Innsbruck University in Austria. He has been on the faculty at the University of Michigan since 1980. He held Visiting Professorships at the University of Innsbruck and at the Technical University of Vienna, Austria. He served as Chairman of the University of Michigan Chemical Engineering Department from 1990 – 1995, and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the College of Engineering. He is the founding Director of the Transportation Energy Center. His research spans a wide range of topics, including synthetic fuels, hydrogen production from gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, solid oxide fuel cells, automotive emission control catalysts, novel catalyst synthesis and characterization methods, and nanostructured materials for energy storage and gas sensing applications. He is the author of more than 150 publications, and holds eight U.S. patents. He has supervised more than fifty graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. He received the Giuseppe Parravano Award for Excellence in Catalysis Research, the Research Excellence Award, and Class of 1938 E Distinguished Service Award from the University of Michigan. He currently serves on several editorial boards and advisory committees for academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad.