Reducing energy cost of NOx production in air plasmas

Xuekai Pei, Dogan Gidon, Yao Jhen Yang, Zilan Xiong, David B. Graves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Current worldwide fixed nitrogen utilization efficiency (NUE) is low, leading to significant environmental problems. An important aspect of this problem involves NH3 released from bacterially degraded, N-containing organic waste such as animal manure. Acidifying organic waste with nitric acid traps NH3 as NH4NO3, thus increasing the nitrogen content of the resulting organic fertilizer and reducing the environmental effects of NH3 emission. Air plasmas have been proposed for this purpose through production of NOx from air which can be readily converted to nitric acid. However, a major challenge remains in reducing the energy cost of NOx production in air plasmas to make the technology economically competitive. Different types of discharges such as arcs, sparks, dielectric barrier discharges have been investigated for NOx production but they are challenging to compare due to differences in their structure, geometry and excitation modes etc. Different discharges also utilize potentially different chemical reaction pathways to produce NOx. As of yet, there are no general evaluation criteria to determine the qualities of an appropriate discharge configuration for energy-efficient NOx production. In this study, we report on four types of discharges; dielectric barrier, glow, spark and extending arc discharge to examine NOx production efficiency under different conditions. Based on our results and previously published results from the literature, we propose a dimensionless parameter to guide the design of appropriate plasma sources for reduced energy cost NOx production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


  • Atmospheric pressure air plasma
  • Energy cost
  • NO production
  • Nitrogen fixation


Dive into the research topics of 'Reducing energy cost of NOx production in air plasmas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this