The oxidation of n-alkanes (C1–C7) has been studied with and without the effects of a nanosecond, non-equilibrium plasma discharge at 1 atm pressure from 420 to 1250 K. Experiments have been performed under nearly isothermal conditions in a flow reactor, where reactive mixtures are diluted in Ar to minimize temperature changes from chemical reactions. Sample extraction performed at the exit of the reactor captures product and intermediate species and stores them in a multi-position valve for subsequent identification and quantification using gas chromatography. By fixing the flow rate in the reactor and varying the temperature, reactivity maps for the oxidation of fuels are achieved. Considering all the fuels studied, fuel consumption under the effects of the plasma is shown to have been enhanced significantly, particularly for the low-temperature regime (T<800 K). In fact, multiple transitions in the rates of fuel consumption are observed depending on fuel with the emergence of a negative-temperature-coefficient regime. For all fuels, the temperature for the transition into the high-temperature chemistry is lowered as a consequence of the plasma being able to increase the rate of fuel consumption. Using a phenomenological interpretation of the intermediate species formed, it can be shown that the active particles produced from the plasma enhance alkyl radical formation at all temperatures and enable low-temperature chain branching for fuels C3 and greater. The significance of this result demonstrates that the plasma provides an opportunity for low-temperature chain branching to occur at reduced pressures, which is typically observed at elevated pressures in thermal induced systems.
One contribution of 14 to a theme issue ‘Physics and chemistry of plasma-assisted combustion’.
- Accepted May 6, 2015.
- © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.