Boosting the Conversion of CO2 with Biochar to Clean CO in an Atmospheric Plasmatron: A Synergy of Plasma Chemistry and Thermochemistry

Hao Zhang*, Qinhuai Tan, Qunxing Huang, Kaiyi Wang, Xin Tu, Xiaotong Zhao, Chunfei Wu, Jianhua Yan, Xiaodong Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, the conversion of CO2into O2-free CO has been investigated in an atmospheric plasmatron via the reaction with biochar. The effects of the biochar source, pyrolysis temperature for biochar preparation, and gas-solid reaction patterns (fixed bed and fluidized bed) on the reaction performance were evaluated under different feed flow rates. The underlying mechanisms were explored using in situ optical emission spectroscopy focusing on understanding the role of plasma chemistry and thermochemistry in CO2conversion. The results revealed that the presence of both biochar and plasma significantly facilitate CO2conversion. In comparison to thermal CO2splitting, the plasmatron CO2+ C process dramatically enhanced the CO2conversion from 0 to 27.1%. Walnut shell biochar prepared at relatively high pyrolysis temperatures favored CO2conversion due to a high carbon content. A fixed bed surprisingly provided remarkably better performance than a fluidized bed for the CO2+ C reaction, benefiting from a prompt consumption of the generated O2by biochar. The high electron density achieved in the plasmatron (1015cm-3) allows for a high processing capacity, and the moderate electron temperature (1.1-1.5 eV) with enhanced vibrational energy (6300-8200 K) obtained stimulates the most efficient CO2activation routes through vibrational excitation. The relatively high rotational (gas) temperatures in the core plasma area (2100-2400 K) and in the gas-solid reaction region (<1573 K) detrimentally drive the reverse reactions of CO2splitting and advantageously boost the biochar-involved reactions, respectively, by thermochemistry. The synergy of plasma-chemistry-dominated CO2dissociation and the thermochemistry-dominated CO2+ C and O2+ C reactions accounts for the high CO2conversion obtained in the plasmatron CO2+ C process. The immediate study provides a novel route for efficient CO2conversion by coupling plasma chemistry and thermochemistry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7712-7725
Number of pages14
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number23
Early online date26 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Key Technologies R&D Program of China (no. 2018YFE0117300) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (nos. 52076190 and 51976191). C.W. and X.T. acknowledge the funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 823745.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.


  • biochar
  • COconversion
  • plasma chemistry
  • plasmatron
  • thermochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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