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Plasma Based Hybrid Technique for Abatement of Pollutants (NOx

and CO) from Stationary Engine Exhaust- Effect of Loading

Condition and Flow Rate.
Dr. A.D.Srinivasan1, Jagadisha.N2, Rajagopala.R3
Department of Electrical Engineering
Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysore, Karnataka, India.


A detailed laboratory study on the removal of pollutants (Nitrogen Oxides and Carbon Monoxide) from
the exhaust of a stationary diesel engine was carried out using pulsed electrical discharge promoted
adsorbent/catalytic processes. The main objective is to explore the effect of exhaust flow rate and
concentration on the pollutant removal using plasma hybrid process. Hybrid system consists of plasma
cascaded with adsorbent/catalytic reactor which exhibits superior NOx removal efficiency compared to
individual performance. Experiments were carried out with different arrangements and have achieved
More than 93% of NOx reduction in plasma adsorbent hybrid system about 75% CO reduction with
catalyst alone at 400°C. Further the work carried out with different exhaust flow rates, concentration and
engine loading conditions, by-products formations are tabulated.

Key words-Pulse Discharge Plasma, Engine Exhaust, Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO),
Adsorbents, NOx reduction, plasma hybrid process.

I.INTRODUCTION challenge to the researchers across the globe.

Diesel engines, the major source of This is because the conventional after treatment
power in industries and automobiles, play a technique such as a three-way catalytic
significant part among man-made pollution converter, which has proved to be very
sources. Successful control of the emissions successful in gasoline engines, cannot be
from combustion engines, particularly from applied to lean burn spark ignition engines or
diesel engines, is yet to be achieved. Most diesel engines because these engines burn their
harmful pollutants present in the diesel engine fuel with a excess of air or oxygen & the
exhaust are Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and exhaust temperature is low. In such an exhaust
Carbon Monoxide (CO) which are mandated to environment the catalytic reduction of Oxides
meet the regulations. of Nitrogen is very difficult [2]. Hence, in case
of diesel engines despite the modifications in
The presently available conventional engine design and improvement in after
techniques to control the emission, are either treatment technologies, large amount of NOx
difficult to operate or do not satisfy the stringent continues to emit and attempts to develop new
emission standards. Reducing the diesel engine catalysts to reduce these pollutants have
exhaust pollutant to meet the future emission been so far less successful.
standards is a challenging task and there is need The electrical discharge plasma (non
for better after treatment techniques [1]. thermal plasma) is a prominent non-
Controlling emissions from combustion engines conventional technique, which can produce
particularly from diesel driven ones is a chemically active species that can facilitate the
removal of NOx and other pollutants within kept constant at 100 pps (pulses per second).
diesel exhaust [3-7]. The pulse voltage applied to the plasma reactor
Further, plasma promotes catalysis and was measured by means of a 150 MHz digital
adsorption when it is cascaded with a catalyst oscilloscope (DL1540, 200MS/s, Yokogawa)
and adsorbent. Plasma aided catalysis & connected through a 2000:1 voltage divider
adsorption is gaining lot of importance & many (EP-50K, 50MHz, PEEC, Japan). The current
researchers across the globe have been working was measured using a current probe (P6021,
on this [8-10]. Further majority of the research Tektronix).
work carried out on actual diesel engine
exhaust has been done at exhaust temperatures
higher than 150°C making use of proprietary
catalysts with the use of additional
hydrocarbons. The results reported have
limitations with regard to pollutant removal
efficiency, by product formation, pollutant
initial concentration, energy consumption and
operating temperature window [11].
In the present work, a detailed study on
the removal of pollutants (NOx, and CO) from
the exhaust of a Stationary diesel engine was Fig.1.Diesel engine exhaustt reatment using single step plasma
carried out using electrical discharge plasma hybrid catalysis/adsorbent technique

hybrid techniques. The objective of the study is A 3.3 kW diesel engine was used as the
to explore the effect of loading & flow rate on exhaust source. The whole of the exhaust from
the pollutant removal efficiency of electric the engine was not treated in view of
discharge plasma associated catalysis and infrastructure limitation in the laboratory.
adsorbent configurations. For the purpose of Further, as our objective is to examine the
study the exhaust treatment was carried out in underlying principle involved in the exhaust
two stages. In the first stage, the exhaust was treatment, only a part of the main exhaust from
treated with single step plasma assisted catalyst the engine was treated and the exhaust flow rate
and in the second stage with single step plasma was controlled and varied from 2lpm to 8lpm.
assisted adsorbent process. To study the effect A dielectric barrier electric
of loading & flow rate, experiments were discharge reactor (referred to as plasma reactor
carried out at no load and partial load and at (PR)) was employed in the present studies. The
different flow rate. The effectiveness of the plasma reactor was a cylindrical glass tube
technique with regard to NOx, CO removal and (inner diameter: 15 mm and outer diameter: 17
by-product reduction was discussed. mm) consisting of a stainless steel wire of
thickness 1 mm as the inner electrode and
II. EXPERIMENTAL SETUP aluminium foil wrapped over the glass tube as
the outer electrode. The effective length of the
The schematic of the diesel
reactor where discharge took place was 30 cm.
engine exhaust treatment setup is shown in
The experiments involving plasma reactor were
Figure 1. A 30 kV High Voltage pulse source
carried out at room temperature.
was used in the studies. Throughout the
A non-conventional commercially
experiments, the frequency of the pulses was
available red mud has been used as catalyst and
MS13X molecular sleeves and Activated IV. RESULTSAND DISCUSSION
alumina balls(AAB) were used as adsorbent.
Both in the form of pellets were placed inside Before treating the exhaust gas, the
the quartz glass tube of 30 cm length and 15 concentrations of CO, CO2, NO, NO2, NOx, O2
mm diameter. This is referred to as and aldehydes were measured. Table I shows
catalytic/adsorbent reactor (CR/AR). the typical concentrations of the pollutants
In the single step plasma hybrid under no load and partial load (27.27%)
process the catalytic/adsorbent reactor was conditions.
placed after the plasma reactor. In both these Table. I Initial Concentration of pollutants/components
configurations, the plasma reactor and present in diesel engine exhaust

adsorbent reactyor were operated at room 27.7%

temperature, whereas the catalytic reactor was No
Pollutants Load
operated at 400°C. load
Filtering of the exhaust was done first, H2O 1.0% 1.0% Vol
using filtering and conditioning unit (FCS). The Vol
filtered exhaust was then allowed to enter the CO2 1.7% 3.2%
treatment zone. The exhaust gas was made to
CO 410ppm 311ppm
pass through a tube containing steel wool, in
NO 127ppm 284ppm
order to filter out oil mist and macro-sized
particulate matter. The exhaust was then passed NO2 93ppm 262ppm
through filtering and conditioning system NOx 220ppm 546ppm
(FCS). The FCS consists of three filters and a
moisture separator. The function of the FCS is Aldehydes 50ppm 80ppm
to filter out the carbonaceous soot, any coarse O2 18.6% 15.8%
particles, oil mists and water from the exhaust
gas. Proper care has been taken in the In Table I, NOx means sum of
development of this conditioning system so as concentrations of NO and NO2. The
not to affect the sample gas components. concentrations of NO and NO2 were measured
The measurement of NOx, and other individually and then added to get the NOx
gaseous pollutants present in the diesel engine concentration. Aldehydes included
exhaust gas was carried out accurately using a formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
QUINTOX KM 9160, Kane International UK In the present paper the effect of flow
gas analyzer. rate on the pollutant removal is first discussed
& then effect of loading condition on pollutant
III. METHODOLOGY removal is discussed.
To study the effect of flow rate on the
NOx and CO removal process by plasma hybrid
system the experiments were conducted with (a) On NOx removal by adsorbent process
flow rates of 2, 4, and 8LPM using flow meter.
Further to investigate the effect of loading
condition on the pollutant removal process
experiments were conducted on no load and
partial load using generator loading system.
small. This can be explained as below. At
lower plasma voltage the conversion of NO to
NO2 by the plasma is not effective and further
higher flow rate would decrease the resident
time of the exhaust in the plasma reactor. In this
condition the exhaust entering the adsornent
reactor contains more NO molecules which are
not effectively adsorbed by the material that has
been used in our work. However at higher
plasma voltage the plasma will be more active
in converting NO to NO2 molecules even at
higher flow rates and hence exhaust treated by
Fig.2. Effect of flow rate on NOx removal by adsorbent process plasma will have more NO2 molecules. When
this exhaust enters adsorbent reactor the
From the figure 2 it can be observed
adsorption process will be more active as NO2
that flow rate has little effect on NOx removal
molecules get adsorbed more effectively by the
efficiency. This is because the NOx removal by
adsorbent material that has been used in our
an adsorbent depends on the size of the
work. Hence the flow rate matters little at
pollutant molecule (NOx and CO) and pore size
higher voltages. Further at any flow rate plasma
of adsorbent material [12]. Hence for a given
assisted adsorption process shows superior NOx
concentration of the pollutant and adsorbent
removal process compared to adsorption
material the flow rate has less effect on the Nox
process alone [13-16].
removal efficiency.

(c) On NOx removal by Catalyst Process

(b) On NOx removal by plasma assisted
adsorbent process

Fig.3.Effect of flow rate on NOx removal by plasma assisted Fig.4.Effect of flow rate on NOx removal by catalyst
adsorbent process process

From the figure3 it is observed that the From the figure 4 it is noted that the
effect of flow rate on NOx removal depends on NOx removal decreases with increase in flow
the plasma voltage. At low plasma voltages the rate which can be attributed to the low resident
flow rate afffects the NOx removal considerably time of the exhaust in the catalytic reactor [17].
and at higher plasma voltages the effect is quite
(d) On NOx removal by Plasma assistant
catalytic process

Fig.5. Effect of flow rate on NOx removal by plasma assisted

Catalytic process Fig.7. Effect of flow rate on CO in removal by plasma assisted
Catalytic process.
From the figure 5 it is observed that NOx
From the figure 6 and 7 it is observed
removal decreases with increase in flow rate
which is due to the decrease of resident time as that the plasma assisted catalytic technique
explained above. However at given flow rate shows better CO removal compared to catalytic
NOx removal is higher than catalyst alone technique alone at given flow rate. This is
which is due to combined action of plasma and because the plasma being an oxidizing
catalyst process[18-19] environment converts CO to CO2 thus reducing
the CO concentration.Further when the exhaust
(e) On CO Removal by Catalyst Process containing low CO concntration enters the
Effect of flow rate on CO removal catalyst the catalytic activity will not be much
80 affected by the flow rate. Hence the CO
70 removal by plasma assisted catalytic process is
60 not much affected by the flow rate [19].
8LPM (a) On NOx Removal by adsorbent
20 Process.

Fig.6.Effect of flow rate on CO removal by catalyst process

From the figure 6 it is noted that the

effect of flow rate is with respect to CO
removal which is again due to fact that as flow
rate increases the resident time of the pollutant
inside the reactor reduces which in turn reduces
the catalytic activities[17]
Fig.8. Comparison between adsorbents on NOx removal
(f) On CO removal by Plasma assistant efficiency
catalytic process
From the figure 8 it is observed that
when adsorbent alone is used, the loading
effect is less pronounced on the NOx removal
compare to when adsorbents are combined with
plasma process. This is due to because as
loading is increases the initial concentration of
NOx increases which will decreases the
conversion of NO to NO2 intern decreasing the
adsorbent activity of the adsorbent[20].
(b) On NOx Removal Plasma assistant combined with plasma process. This is because
adsorbent process as loading is increases the initial concentration
of NOx increases which will decreases the
conversion of NO to NO2 intern decreasing the
catalytic activity of the catalyst[17].

(d) On NOx Removal by Plasma assistant

catalytic process

Fig.9. Effect of load on NOx removal by plasma assisted

adsorbent process

From the figure 9 it is observed that

plasma assisted adsorbent shows better NOx
removal performance compare to adsorbent
alone both at no load and load condition,
however the effect of loading is more
pronounced in case of plasma assisted adsorbent
process compared to adsorbent alone, this can
Fig.11 Effect of load on NOx removal by plasma assisted
be due to high initial concentration under load Catalytic process
condition which decreases NOx removal
performance of plasma process [20]. From the figure 10and 11 it can be
observed that Plasma assisted catalyst shows
(c) Catalytic Process better NOx removal performance compare to
catalyst alone both at no load and load
condition, this is due to influence of plasma
environment on NOx removal [18]. But at higher
flow rates effectiveness of plasma reduces
because of increased in pollutants concentration
which leads to decreased in NOx removal
efficiency at partial loading condition.


The following conclusion can be made from the

present work
Fig.10.Effect of Loading on NOx removal by catalyst process
1. The plasma adsorbent process shows
When catalysts alone are used, the superior NOx removal both at no load and
loading effect is less pronounced on the NOx load condition, further at a given flow rate
removal compare to when catalysts are
the combined process exhibits a better
2. The NOx removal by red mud catalyst is
affected by the flow rate however when
plasma is combined with catalyst the overall
NOx removal performance improves.
3. The effect of flow rate is less pronounced
with adsorbent process alone compared to
plasma assisted adsorbent process.
4. At higher load the initial concentration is
higher which decreases the NOx
performance of plasma assisted adsorbent
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and A.Bhargavi, “Laboratory Investigation of
Pulse Discharge Based Techniques for Engine
Exhaust Treatment - Effect of Exhaust Nature Dr.A.D. Srinivasan was born in
Mysore, India, in1961.He received
and Operating Conditions “, International the B.E. and Post graduate diploma
in system analysis degrees from
Journal of Plasma Energy Science and the university of Mysore in 1984
Technology, vol.6, no. 3, December 2012, pp and 1990 respectively. He received
the Master of engineering and
215-221. doctoral degrees from the Indian
Institute of Science, Bangalore in
[20] A.D.Srinivasan, Rajagopala.R, Jagadisha.N 1996 and 2005, respectively.
and A.Bhargavi, “A Laboratory Investigation of
He was a lecturer in the National Institute of Engg,
Mysuru from 1984 to 1985 and was a power
electronic engineer in M/S. Kirloskar Electric
Company Ltd, Mysore from 1985 to 1987. He is
currently Professor in the department of Electrical
and Electronics Engg, S.J.College of Engg, Mysuru,
India. His research interests are applications of high
voltage and power electronics in air pollution
control. He has several publications in journals and
international conferences.

Jagadisha N was born in

Davanagere, India, in1986. He
received the B.E and MTech
degree in Electrical engineering
from VTU in 2008 and 2012
respectively. Currently pursuing
PhD degree in Electrical
engineering. He is mainly working
on the application of electrical
discharges for treatment of air
pollutants using plasma hybrid

RajagopalaR was born in Mysuru,

India, in1973. He received the B.E
ME and Ph.D degree in Electrical
engineering in 1997 1999 and
2018 respectively . He is mainly
working on the application of non
Thermal plasma techniques for
diesel exhaust cleaning.