A method for converting hydrocarbon fuel into hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide within a reformer 10 is disclosed. According to the method, a stream including an oxygen-containing gas is directed adjacent to a first vessel 18 and the oxygen-containing gas is heated. A stream including unburned fuel is introduced into the oxygen-containing gas stream to form a mixture including oxygen-containing gas and fuel. The mixture of oxygen-containing gas and unburned fuel is directed tangentially into a partial oxidation reaction zone 24 within the first vessel 18. The mixture of oxygen-containing gas and fuel is further directed through the partial oxidation reaction zone 24 to produce a heated reformate stream including hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide. Steam may also be mixed with the oxygen-containing gas and fuel, and the reformate stream from the partial oxidation reaction zone 24 directed into a steam reforming zone 26. High- and low-temperature shift reaction zones 64,76 may be employed for further fuel processing.