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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2015, Article ID 538752, 8 pages
Research Article

A Study of Fuel and Reactor Design for Platinum Nanoparticle Catalyzed Microreactors

Mechanical Engineering Department, Rowan University, 201 Mullica Hill Road, Glassboro, NJ 08028, USA

Received 25 August 2015; Revised 3 November 2015; Accepted 12 November 2015

Academic Editor: Nikhil Kothurkar

Copyright © 2015 Dylan McNally et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Typical microcombustion-based power devices entail the use of catalyst to sustain combustion in less than millimeter scale channels. This work explores the use of several other candidate fuels for ~8 nm diameter Pt particle catalyzed combustion within 800 μm channel width cordierite substrates. The results demonstrate while commercial hydrocarbon fuels such as methane, propane, butane, and ethanol can be used to sustain catalytic combustion, room temperature ignition was only observed using methanol-air mixtures. Fuels, other than methanol, required preheating at temperatures >200°C, yet repeated catalytic cycling similar to methanol-air mixtures was demonstrated. Subsequently, a new reactor design was investigated to couple with thermoelectric generators. The modified reactor design enabled ignition of methanol-air mixtures at room temperature with the ability to achieve repeat catalytic cycles. Preliminary performance studies achieved a maximum temperature difference of 55°C with a flow rate of 800 mL/min. While the temperature difference indicates a respectable potential for power generation, reduced exhaust temperature and improved thermal management could significantly enhance the eventual device performance.