Conversion of volatile organic compounds in a twin surface dielectric barrier discharge

Schücke, L. and Gembus, J.-L. and Peters, N. and Kogelheide, F. and Nguyen-Smith, R.T. and Gibson, A.R. and Schulze, J. and Muhler, M. and Awakowicz, P.

Volume: 29 Pages:
DOI: 10.1088/1361-6595/abae0b
Published: 2020

A voltage and power controlled surface dielectric barrier discharge for the removal of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from gas streams is studied by means of current-voltage measurements, flame ionization detectors, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The discharge is generated in a defined synthetic air gas stream at atmospheric pressure by application of a damped sinusoidal voltage waveform resulting from a resonant circuit. Multiple organic compounds, namely n-butane, butanol, isobutanol, ethyl acetate, diethyl ether, and butoxyethanol, are tested at concentrations of 50, 100, 200, and 400 ppm (parts per million), as well as peak-to-peak voltages of 8 to 13 kVpp and pulse repetition frequencies of 250 to 4000 Hz. The dissipated power within the system is calculated utilizing the measured voltage and current waveforms. The conversion and absolute degradation of the VOCs are determined by flame ionization detectors. An increasing concentration of VOCs is found to increase the dissipated power marginally, suggesting a higher conductivity and higher electron densities in the plasma. Of the applied VOCs, n-butane is found to be the most resistant to the plasma treatment, while higher concentrations consistently result in a lower conversion and a higher absolute degradation across all tested compounds. Corresponding amounts of converted molecules per expended joule are given as a comparable parameter by weighting the absolute degradation with the dissipated power. Finally, specific reaction products are determined by online GC-MS, further confirming carbon dioxide (CO2) as a major reaction product, alongside a variety of less prevalent side products, depending on the structure of the original compound. The findings of this study are intended to promote the development of energy efficient processes for the purification of gas streams in both, industry and consumer market. Potential applications of the presented technique could be found in car paint shops, chemical plants, hospital ventilation systems, or air purifiers for living space. © 2020 IOP Publishing Ltd.

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