A Mathematical Model Describing the Dissociation of Natural Gas Using Non-thermal Plasma at Atmospheric Pressure

Non-thermal atmospheric pressure plasmas have been studied for a variety of industrial applications such as pollution control, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) removal, car exhaust emission control and polymer surface treatment. For decades, non-thermal plasmas have been used to generate ozone for water purification. Non-thermal plasmas may be produced by a variety of electric discharges or electron beams. The basic feature of these technologies is that they produce plasmas in which the majority of the electrical energy goes into the production of energetic electrons. These energetic electrons produce chemically excited species - free radicals and ions - as well as additional electrons through electron-impact dissociation, excitation and ionization of background gas molecules. These excited species, in turn, oxidize, reduce or decompose the pollutant molecules in pollution control applications. The partner, Atlantic Hydrogen Inc., is conducting research and experimentation into the dissociation of natural gas by non-thermal plasma at atmospheric pressure. They are looking to reduce the associated development time by building a theoretical model of the process. The intern research project involved building an initial model of the physical processes extant within the non-thermal plasma that could be used in later studies of the effect of the plasma on the chemical dissociation process.

Srikanth Valluru
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Bruce Colpitts
New Brunswick