Plasma-assisted chemical-looping combustion: Mechanistic insights into low temperature methane oxidation with CuO

Christopher M. Burger, Nils Hansen, Angie J. Zhang, Yiguang Ju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The low-temperature oxidation of CH4 by CuO in a coaxial, fixed bed, double dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) reactor was investigated with time-dependent species measurements by an electron-ionization molecular beam mass spectrometer (EI-MBMS). In the experiment, 10% methane carried by noble gasses was flown at 50 sccm through 1 g CuO dispersed in quartz wool both under plasma and non-plasma conditions, while time-dependent gas-phase species profiles were collected. Plasma conditions were explored from 300 to 600 °C while the non-plasma conditions were set from 300 to 900 °C. Mechanistic insights into the oxidation of CH4 by CuO with plasma discharge at lower temperatures (≤ 600 °C) were obtained by quantifying the fuel oxidation, intermediate species, and CO2 production in comparison to the non-plasma conditions. We observed significant enhancement of fuel oxidation from the plasma discharge between 400 and 500 °C. The CO2 production at 500 °C with plasma was greater than that at 700 °C without plasma, reducing fuel oxidation temperature by 200+ °C. During tests, three distinct reaction stages were observed: a gas-phase transport limited stage, a surface reaction limited kinetic stage, and an oxygen ion diffusion limited stage. It was observed that plasma greatly improved the reactivity of the second stage at low temperature. In addition, no carbon deposits were observed on the resultant particles, even under the presence of plasma. M. species such as C4H2 and C6H6 not previously observed or predicted in CuO/CH4 chemical looping were observed, with some species such as CH3OH only becoming detectable as total flowrate was increased from 50 to 1500sccm. A non-plasma reaction pathway for CH4 based the observed species from the MBMS spectrum and previous predictions from reactive molecular dynamics simulations was created, providing a framework from which future, more complex plasma CuO mechanisms can be crafted from.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5551-5560
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


  • Copper oxide
  • Dielectric barrier discharge
  • Fixed-bed flow reactor
  • Methane
  • Plasma-assisted chemical-looping combustion


Dive into the research topics of 'Plasma-assisted chemical-looping combustion: Mechanistic insights into low temperature methane oxidation with CuO'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this