Low temperature oxidation and pyrolysis of n-heptane in nanosecond-pulsed plasma discharges

Aric Rousso, Suo Yang, Joseph Lefkowitz, Wenting Sun, Yiguang Ju

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77 Scopus citations


Initiation of hydrocarbon oxidation and pyrolysis using non-equilibrium plasma discharges has potential applications in combustion and fuel conversion processes opening new fields for cleaner engines or for selective production of chemical products. The parametric effects of oxygen concentration Ar dilution and plasma discharge frequency on pyrolytic and oxidative reaction pathways of n-heptane assisted by non-equilibrium plasma discharge were studied. Low temperature reaction pathways of n-heptane/O2/Ar mixtures with a nanosecond repetitively pulsed plasma discharge were examined in both in situ time-dependent TDLAS and steady state gas sampling diagnostics. Fuel consumption was more effective in higher Ar than higher oxygen concentrations indicating that higher electron number densities with Ar dilution were more effective than direct electron impact dissociation of oxygen. Steady state sampling results suggested a linear trend of n-heptane dissociation and product species formation with increasing plasma frequency with different major product species for oxidation and pyrolysis. Formation of a major intermediate species formaldehyde was significantly under-predicted while fuel and water production were overpredicted. Path flux analysis suggested that the fuel consumption and water production come from electron collision dissociation of O2 leading to O and O(1D) which go on to react with the fuel molecules leading to OH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4105-4112
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the Innovative Research Awards in Energy and the Environment from ACEE at Princeton University and the NSF grants of CMMI-1449314 and CBET-1507358. The authors would also like to thank Matthew Grieco for his work on data acquisition and analysis.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Chemical kinetics
  • Low temperature oxidation
  • Non-equilibrium plasma
  • Plasma assisted combustion
  • Pyrolysis


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