A partial oxidation reformer comprising a longitudinally extending chamber having a methanol, water and an air inlet and an outlet. An igniter mechanism is near the inlets for igniting a mixture of methanol and air, while a partial oxidation catalyst in the chamber is spaced from the inlets and converts methanol and oxygen to carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Controlling the oxygen to methanol mole ratio provides continuous slightly exothermic partial oxidation reactions of methanol and air producing hydrogen gas. The liquid is preferably injected in droplets having diameters less than 100 micrometers. The reformer is useful in a propulsion system for a vehicle which supplies a hydrogen-containing gas to the negative electrode of a fuel cell.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38 between the U.S. Department of Energy and The University of Chicago representing Argonne National Laboratory.