Technological watch

Interplay between nitrogen oxides and ozone in a filamentary dielectric barrier discharge at various frequencies

Atmospheric nonthermal discharges represent an interesting alternative to convert nitrogen and oxygen into nitrogen oxides (NO, NO2, and HNO3). In this article, it is shown how the filamentary character of a dielectric barrier discharge at atmospheric pressure in an N2/O2 mixture is affected by the used frequency and influences the NOx and O3 production. Through a novel technique based on thermal paper, the heat generated by the filaments at different frequencies is investigated. Finally, the impact of this heat generation on the O3 and NOX production is revealed.Pursuing more efficient nitrogen fixation in the context of the current climate crisis is of prime importance. The Haber?Bosch process (NH3 production) accounts for at least 2% of the yearly released greenhouse gases. Alternatively, different atmospheric nonthermal discharges have proven their ability to convert nitrogen and oxygen from the air into nitrogen oxides (NO, NO2, and HNO3 hereafter referred as NOx). Among them, dielectric barrier discharges (DBDs) in N2/O2 are very interesting as they are characterized by microdischarges (MDs) developing into filaments under specific conditions (gap length, voltage, frequency, nature of the dielectrics). In this work, we used a sinusoidal voltage at 4, 12, 17.5, and 30?kHz as a key parameter to manipulate the MDs behaviors in an N2/O2 DBD and tailor the chemistry of the discharge. We characterized the MDs distribution by high?speed camera imaging. Two different nitrogen emission systems, that is, the second positive system (SPS) and the first negative system (FNS), were used to assess the filament temperature and what we define as the delayed?glow temperature, respectively. The influence of the filament's distribution on the overall discharge temperature has also been evaluated, by using a novel approach allowing the generation of heat distribution maps directly on a thermosensitive paper exposed to the discharge. Finally, the effect of the filaments on ozone (O3) and NOx production has been monitored by in situ Fourier?transform infrared (FTIR). The DBD can be tuned between homogenously distributed MDs at 4 and 12?kHz to highly localized filaments at 17.5 and 30?kHz. A high filament temperature combined with a cold delayed?glow is observed at 17.5?kHz while both the filament and the delayed?glow temperature are high at 30?kHz. Low frequencies lead to heat spreading into the whole discharge volume, while localization of heat along the filament's paths is observed at high frequencies. High?temperature filaments in the 30?kHz discharge and in the globally heated discharge at low frequencies quickly remove O3 from the discharge and consequently limit the overall NOx production by removing important oxidation pathways. On the contrary, filaments surrounded by cold gas observed at 17.5?kHz allowed to maintain a high concentration of O3 necessary for a faster oxidation of NO and thus increase the HNO3 production, even after 250?s, by avoiding backward reactions.

Publication date: 26/02/2023

Author: Antoine Remy, Nathalie De Geyter, François Reniers

Plasma Processes and Polymers


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.