A recently demonstrated fuel-cell system operating on JP-8 (a fuel commonly used in military operations) uses a fuel desulfurization system and a fuel reforming system developed at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Portable fuel-cell power units are quieter, more efficient and have lower emissions than standard diesel generators, but are challenged when used with JP-8 fuel because of its sulfur content. In the demonstrated system, the fuel desulfurization and reforming technologies reduce the sulfur content of JP-8, and generates a hydrogen stream compatible with the system’s integrated fuel cell.
Although currently under development for military use, the desulfurization and reforming technologies can be used with different liquid fuels to provide portable power almost anywhere that small size and high performance are important. For example, researchers at PNNL are extending the desulfurization technology for use with diesel fuel. Envisioned benefits of the technology include reduced emissions, increased reliability, multi-fuel capability, durability and ease of maintenance.