Adsorption of off-gases from steam methane reforming (H2, CO2, CH4, CO and N2) on activated carbon

Carlos A. Grande, Filipe V.S. Lopes, Ana M. Ribeiro, José M. Loureiro, Alírio E. Rodrigues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Hydrogen is the energy carrier of the future and could be employed in stationary sources for energy production. Commercial sources of hydrogen are actually operating employing the steam reforming of hydrocarbons, normally methane. Separation of hydrogen from other gases is performed by Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) units where recovery of high-purity hydrogen does not exceed 80%. In this work we report adsorption equilibrium and kinetics of five pure gases present in off-gases from steam reforming of methane for hydrogen production (H2, CO2, CH4, CO and N2). Adsorption equilibrium data were collected in activated carbon at 303, 323, and 343 K between 0-22 bar and was fitted to a Virial isotherm model. Carbon dioxide is the most adsorbed gas followed by methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen. This adsorbent is suitable for selective removal of CO2 and CH4. Diffusion of all the gases studied was controlled by micropore resistances. Binary (H2-CO2) and ternary (H2-CO2-CH4) breakthrough curves are also reported to describe the behavior of the mixtures in a fixed-bed column. With the data reported it is possible to completely design a PSA unit for hydrogen purification from steam reforming natural gas in a wide range of pressures.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1338-1364
Number of pages27
JournalSeparation Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Filtration and Separation
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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