Steam Reforming of Propane

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Steam reforming is a method for producing hydrogen and carbon dioxide starting from hydrocarbons. In this Demonstration, a feed stream, composed of propane and steam, enters a reactor at 150 °C and 1 atm. We assume that the propane molar flow rate in the feed stream is 1 mol/s and that the steam/propane molar ratio in the feed stream is 9.


Using a nickel-based catalyst placed in tubes, steam reforming of propane (reaction R1) occurs according to the following reaction:


Another reaction, the water-gas shift reaction (reaction R2) also takes place in the reactor and produces more hydrogen according to


The standard heat of reaction R1 is . Thus, this reaction is endothermic. On the other hand, reaction R2 is mildly exothermic, and its standard heat of reaction is . Thus, heat must be added to the reformer, using burners to heat the tubes. You can set the value of the heat added (in kW) to the reactor , as well as the temperature of the outlet stream. The outlet stream's pressure is equal to 1 atm. Assume that the propane is entirely consumed, so that the extent of reaction R1 is .


Contributed by: Housam Binous and Ahmed Bellagi (September 2016)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA




[1] R. M. Felder and R. W. Rousseau, Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes, 3rd ed., New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2004.

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