For proton exchange membrane fuel cell systems (PEMFC) integrated with fuel processors, the calorific value of reformate gases produced during the start-up phase must be recovered. An appropriate exhaust after treatment system has crucial importance for PEMFC systems. Catalytic combustion is a promising alternative regarding its total oxidation capability of low calorific value gases at low temperatures, thereby reducing environmentally hazardous emissions. The aim of the study is to develop an after treatment system using a catalytic burner with a nominal capacity of 5 kW(t), which is also adaptive to partial loads of PEM fuel cell capacity. Fuel type, fuel composition and fuel loads are important parameters determining the operating window of the catalytic burner. Precious metal based catalysts, as proved to be the most active catalysts for the oxidation of hydrocarbons, can withstand temperatures of about 1073 K without exhibiting a rapid deactivation. This is the main barrier dictating the operating window and thereby determining the capacity of the burner. In this work, 1.5% natural gas (NG) alone was found to be the upper limit to control the catalyst bed temperature below 1073 K. In the case of catalytic combustion of hydrogen-NG mixture, 7% of hydrogen with NG up to 0.6% could be totally oxidized below 1073 K. Within the experimented ranges of fuel loads, between 2.5 kW, and 5.5 kW(t), the temperature of the catalyst bed was seen to increase with increasing the fuel load at constant fuel percentages. It has been observed that fuel type was another parameter affecting the exhaust gas temperature. (C) 2010 Professor T. Nejat Veziroglu. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.