GPT - Thermo-Chemical Processes Group Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Ingeniería de Aragón. Universidad de Zaragoza
Microscale aqueous phase reforming
This set up provides a route to produce hydrogen and added value chemicals from renewable feedstock as crude glycerol, aqueous fractions of pyrolysis liquids, cheese whey or other aqueous waste stream at moderate pressure (around 35 bar) and relative low temperature (around 230 ºC).
The experimental system consists of a stainless steel fixed-bed tubular micro-scale reactor, with an inner diameter of 9 mm, 30 cm long and an updraft flow of the feed. The bed contains a mixture of inert sand and catalyst and is placed inside the reactor upon a porous plate in order to conduct catalytic test. The total pressure of the system is reached with a N2 carrier gas. Nitrogen is also used as a carrier gas and as an internal standard in the gas analyses. The aqueous solution of oxygenated compounds is fed by means of a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) pump. When the liquid flow exits the reactor is despressurized and cooled at atmospheric pressure by means of a Peltier cooler, where a condensable phase is recovered. The gas product is separated by means of a Peltier cooler and analysed online with a micro-GC, where N2, H2, CH4, CO2, CO, C2H6, C2H4, C2H2, C3H8 are quantified. The liquid products are collected and analysed offline in the lab by means of a GC equipped with a FID detector.

Tech. Spec.

  • Hotbox in 304 stainless steel liquid that includes an electric forced convection heater in order to keep the process at temperatures of 160-180 ºC to avoid possible condensation in the system and the pressure control system consisting of a servo micrometric regulating valve.
  • A liquid feeding system consisting of a Gilson 307-5SC HPLC pump, with a working capacity ranging between 0.001 and 5 mL/min.
  • Maximum working pressure (nominal): 100 bar.
  • Gas analysis: Agilent 3000A Micro GC equipped with 2 analysis modules using TCD detectors. Modules: Plot U (with Plot Q pre-column), He carrier, and MolSieve 5A, Ar carrier. Possibility of analysing up to C3 hydrocarbons.
  • Two TOHO TTM-005 temperature controllers, one regulating the power of the electric furnace and the other for the hotbox air convection system.
  • A TOHO TTM-005 pressure controller, the pressure ranging between atmospheric and 100 bar.
  • Three Bronkhorst HI-TEC mass flow controllers. MFC H2: 0-600 cm3 (STP)/min; MFC N2 (0-200 cm3 (STP)/min; MFC synthetic air: 0-200 cm3 (STP)/min.
  • The reactor is housed in an 800 W/220 VAC electrical furnace built in stainless steel. The entire system is contained inside the hot box structure. The furnace has a maximum temperature limit of 800 ºC.
  • A liquid/gas separator based consisting of a Peltier thermoelectric module and a stainless steel vessel serving as a condenser at atmospheric pressure.
  • A data acquisition system in a PC to control and register the operational variables.

Research projects

  • Producción de hidrógeno a partir de bio-oil y glicerina por reformado en fase acuosa a alta presión (CTQ2007-62841) – Hydrogen production from bio-oil and glycerol by aqueous-phase reforming at high pressure.
    • Funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spanish Research Council).
    • Period: 2007-2010.
    • Research leader: Dr. Lucía García.
  • Reformado en fase acuosa de corrientes residuales de varios procesos industriales (ENE2010-18985) – Aqueous phase reforming of residual streams from various industrial processes.
    • Funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spanish Research Council).
    • Period: 2011-2013.
    • Research leader: Dr. Lucía García.


  • Valiente A., Medrano J.A., Oliva M., Ruiz J., García L., Arauzo J.,
    Hydrogen production from oxygenated compounds by aqueous phase reforming, in Proceedings of 17th European Biomass Conference, Hamburg (Germany), 2009.
  • Valiente A., Medrano J.A., Oliva M., Ruiz J., García L., Arauzo J.,
    Hydrogen production by aqueous phase reforming, International Journal of Chemical Reactor Engineering, Vol.8 (2010) ISSN: 1542-6580.
  • Valiente A., Pueyo A., Remón J., Oliva M., Ruiz J., García L.,
    Value added Chemicals production by aqueous phase reforming of glycerol, in Proceedings of 20th European Biomass Conference, Milano (Italy), 2012.
European Comission Brisk
The Thermochemical Processes Group (GPT) is partly funded by the EU's European Social Fund and by the Gobierno de Aragón (Aragonese government)
EU's European Social Fund Gobierno de Aragón