Methane reforming in a small-scaled plasma reactor : industrial application of a plasma process from the viewpoint of the environmental profile

Q. Wang, B. Spasova, V. Hessel, G.A. Kolb

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24 Citations (Scopus)
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The environmental profile of plasma assisted methane reforming for the production of synthesis gas was researched. A miniaturized gliding arc discharge reactor was applied for the partial oxidation of methane in this study. The best operational condition regarding to the lowest CO2-eq emission was screened out. Studied were the global warming potential, the acidification potential, the eutrophication potential, the human toxicity, the NOx photochemical oxidant creation potential, and the ozone depletion potential. The electricity consumption was the main contribution to the four of these six impacts. A sensitivity research of different energy resources of electricity and electricity mix of different countries was carried out in order to decrease the emission caused by the electricity consumption. Then, the conventional steam reforming was benchmarked to the plasma reforming process, which shows that the global warming potential of the plasma reforming is comparably on the same level as the conventional reforming only in the case when the electricity is generated from renewable or clean energy. So, the environmental impact research of the plasma assisted methane reforming in lab scale shed light on its industrial application from the viewpoint of the environmental profile. In order to decrease the emissions from electricity production, it’s recommended that such plasma plant should be built close to power plants from the renewable or clean energy. The compactness of plasma plants due to their expected process intensification would facilitate such distributed approach, while conventional reforming plants are very large and need Verbund-type integration into ChemParks. Finally, another option to make the plasma reforming process more energy efficient and green is proposed which is to combine the plasma reforming unit with Solid Oxide Fuel Cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-774
Number of pages8
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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