Our Core Technology

ZoneFlow™ Reactors are a new class of catalytic reactor designed to replace pellet-type catalysts used in steam reforming. Being an engineered packing instead of a random packing, the ZoneFlow Reactor has superior heat transfer, reactivity, pressure drop and durability designed into it. We can adjust the mixture of these benefits according to customer needs.

Our reactor consists of a metal foil substrate coated with the active catalyst. The dimensions of the reactor are easily adjusted to the reformer tube diameter, and the elastic metal substrate presses against the inner wall of the tube and follows the subsequent creep in tube diameter over time.

Because the substrate is resilient, its wall thickness can be much less than is required to protect the pellets from crushing. That means the solid volume of our reactor, which impedes flow, is reduced from about 50% with pellets to about 20% in ZoneFlow Reactors.  It also means the void volume is structured purposefully to support reactor performance.  The pulverization failure mechanism of the brittle pellets upon thermal cycling is also eliminated.

Pressure drop in the ZoneFlow Reactors is strictly reserved for the performance of heat transfer functions by ruthlessly designing out any redirection of flow within the reactor that does not help distribute the flow of heat from the tube to the reaction sites. The engineering of the packing enables all transverse flow to be designed to be predominantly either centrifugal to break down the boundary layer at the tube wall or centripetal for the heated gas to return to the internal reaction sites.

The geometric surface area of the ZoneFlow Reactor is more than double that of reforming pellets. In addition, the reaction sites are placed near the tube wall heat source, so less energy is expended bringing the heat to the reaction sites. The combination of more surface area, much thinner layers of catalyst, and advantageous placement of the reaction sites in the ZoneFlow Reactor boosts the effectiveness of the catalyst by at least 20x.

Precision engineering of these features enables ZoneFlow Reactors to provide 70% lower pressure drop while substantially improving heat transfer.  Alternatively, we can configure the reactors to more than double heat transfer while reducing pressure drop by more than 30% compared to commercial reforming pellets.