Characterization of plasma catalytic decomposition of methane: Role of atomic O and reaction mechanism

Yudong Li, Jingkai Jiang, Michael Hinshelwood, Shiqiang Zhang, Peter J. Bruggeman, Gottlieb S. Oehrlein

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In this work, we investigated atmospheric pressure plasma jet (APPJ)-assisted methane oxidation over a Ni-SiO2/Al2O3 catalyst. We evaluated possible reaction mechanisms by analyzing the correlation of gas phase, surface and plasma-produced species. Plasma feed gas compositions, plasma powers, and catalyst temperatures were varied to expand the experimental parameters. Real-time Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy was applied to quantify gas phase species from the reactions. The reactive incident fluxes generated by plasma were measured by molecular beam mass spectroscopy using an identical APPJ operating at the same conditions. A strong correlation of the quantified fluxes of plasma-produced atomic oxygen with that of CH4 consumption, and CO and CO2 formation implies that O atoms play an essential role in CH4 oxidation for the investigated conditions. With the integration of APPJ, the apparent activation energy was lowered and a synergistic effect of 30% was observed. We also performed in-situ diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier-transform spectroscopy to analyze the catalyst surface. The surface analysis showed that surface CO abundance mirrored the surface coverage of CH n at 25 °C. This suggests that CH n adsorbed on the catalyst surface as an intermediate species that was subsequently transformed into surface CO. We observed very little surface CH n absorbance at 500 °C, while a ten-fold increase of surface CO and stronger CO2 absorption were seen. This indicates that for a nickel catalyst at 500 °C, the dissociation of CH4 to CH n may be the rate-determining step in the plasma-assisted CH4 oxidation for our conditions. We also found the CO vibrational frequency changes from 2143 cm-1 for gas phase CO to 2196 cm-1 for CO on a 25 °C catalyst surface, whereas the frequency of CO on a 500 °C catalyst was 2188 cm-1. The change in CO vibrational frequency may be related to the oxidation of the catalyst.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number155204
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 14 2022

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  • FTIR
  • diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS)
  • methane oxidation
  • plasma catalysis
  • plasma-surface interaction
  • surface characterization


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