Homogeneous CO2 conversion by microwave plasma: wave propagation and diagnostics

N. den Harder, D.C.M. van den Bekerom, R.S. Al, M.F. Graswinckel, J.M. Palomares, F.J.J. Peeters, S. Ponduri, T. Minea, W.A. Bongers, M.C.M. van de Sanden, G.J. van Rooij

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A suite of diagnostics is proposed to characterize microwave plasma dissociation of CO2: laser scattering, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and passive emission imaging. It provides a comprehensive performance characterization as is illustrated on the basis of experiments in a 2.45 GHz, 1 kW microwave reactor with tangential gas injection. For example, two operating regimes are identified as function of pressure: the diffuse and constricted plasma mode. Their occurrence is explained by evaluation of microwave propagation, which changes with the electron-heavy particle collision frequency ve−h. In the diffuse mode, gas temperatures of 1500–3500 K are determined. The measured conversion degree, specific energy input, and temperature are summarized in a two-temperature thermal model, which is solved to obtain the gas temperature at the periphery of the reactor and the size of the hot zone. Solutions are found with edge temperatures of hundreds of K, and hot zone fractions which agree with the measured behavior. The agreement shows that non-thermal processes play only a marginal role in the measured parameter space of the diffuse discharge. In the constricted mode, the radial plasma size is independent of power. A skin depth equal to the plasma size corresponds to electron densities of 1018–1019 m−3. Temperatures in the central filament are in the range 3000–5000 K. Both discharge modes are up to 50% energy efficient in CO production. Rayleigh signals increase in the afterglow, hinting at rapid gas cooling assuming that the gas composition remains unchanged.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere201600120
Number of pages24
JournalPlasma Processes and Polymers
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • carbon dioxide
  • laser scattering
  • plasma
  • plasmolysis
  • solar fuels
  • synthetic fuel


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