Vibrational quenching by water in a CO2glow discharge measured using quantum cascade laser absorption spectroscopy

M.A. Damen, L.M. Martini, R. Engeln (Corresponding author)

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In situ quantum cascade laser (QCL) absorption spectroscopy is used to investigate the effect of admixed water in a pulsed CO2 glow discharge on the vibrational excitation of CO2 and CO and the conversion of CO2. Time-resolved transmittance spectra of the non-equilibrium CO2 plasma are measured with a 100 μs time resolution. A custom fitting routine is used to extract the time evolution of the gas temperature, rotational temperature and vibrational temperatures of CO2 and CO, while the CO2 conversion is determined from measured CO2 and CO number densities. Rotational Raman scattering is additionally performed in the centre of the reactor to verify measured rotational and vibrational temperatures from line-of-sight absorption spectroscopy. The plasma is operated at 6.7 mbar, with up to 10% water admixed, and is pulsed with a 5-10 ms on-off cycle, with a current of 50 mA supplied during the plasma on-time. Vibrational temperatures and CO2 conversion are not significantly affected by water admixtures below 0.5%. However, the asymmetric stretch temperature of CO2 (T 3) shows considerable quenching upon admixing 10% water vapour, with the maximum elevation above the rotational temperature (T rot) decreasing from 580 ± 86 K to 230 ± 63 K. For the vibrational temperature of CO (T CO), a similar trend is measured. However, the slopes of T 3 and T CO within the first few hundred μs after the start of the plasma remain unchanged, even when admixing 10% water vapour, suggesting equal excitation of the vibrational modes through e-V and V-V interactions. The conversion decreases by almost a factor of 4 when admixing 10% water. We argue that vibrational quenching of CO2 by water can explain part of the decrease. Changes in electron density and temperature and reactions between CO and OH can also play a role.

Original languageEnglish
Article number095017
Number of pages11
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • carbon dioxide plasma
  • gas temperature
  • glow discharge
  • quantum cascade laser
  • vibrational temperature
  • water addition


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