(322c) Hydrocarbon Chain Growth Via a Nonthermal Electrical Plasma Microreactor

Authors: 
Reddick, I., School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University
Jovanovic, G., Oregon State University
Yokochi, A., School of Engineering and Computer Science, Baylor University
AuYeung, N., Oregon State University
Miao, Y., Baylor University
Shareghi, A., School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University
Traverso, A., School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University
Pyka, A., Oregon State University
Coblyn, M. Y., Oregon State University
Mohamed, O., Oregon State University
Currently, large amounts of methane are emitted or flared to the environment from stranded sources such as landfills and agricultural sources. The infrastructure required to bring these resources to market is cost prohibitive. There is an economic opportunity to convert this methane into a more transportable or value-added product that can be brought to market.

Using a nonthermal electrical plasma, reactions that usually require high temperatures and pressures can actually take place close to ambient conditions. Instead of thermal collisions of molecules causing reactions, high energy electrons collide with molecules in order to disrupt bonds. In this case, carbon-hydrogen bonds are broken which allows for longer hydrocarbons to form. This process therefore transforms electrical energy into chemical energy.

Performing these reactions at the microscale level has the advantage of decreasing the space between the electrodes that create the electrical plasma. By reducing the size, less voltage is required in order to generate these plasmas which reduces the costs of the necessary power electronics.

Recent results of the chemical species produced by the process and the energy efficiency of the plasma will be discussed.