Real-time monitoring and quantification of organic by-products and mechanism study of acetone decomposition in a dielectric barrier discharge reactor

  • Xueshuang Li
  • Teng Guo
  • Zhen Peng
  • Li Xu
  • Junguo Dong
  • Ping ChengEmail author
  • Zhen Zhou
Research Article


Non-thermal plasma (NTP) degradation of low-concentration acetone was investigated in a cylindrical dielectric barrier discharge reactor. The effects of oxygen content and flow rate on the removal efficiency at various discharge powers were examined in real-time. The acetone removal efficiency decreases drastically and then remains stable or increases gradually as the O2 content increases from 0 to 25%, and further to 50%. The organic by-products were characterized and quantified using a real-time proton transfer reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PTR-TOF-MS) instrument. The observed organic compounds, with concentrations about ppbv/ppmv by volume, were mainly formaldehyde, methanol, ketene, acetaldehyde, formic acid, acetone, and acetic acid. The discharge power was a critical factor affecting the concentration of the organic by-products and the selectivity toward CO2. The mechanism study based on the by-product monitor in real-time showed that acetone firstly fragments into methyl radicals, acetyl radicals, and H; then, the methyl and acetyl radicals are oxidized by O or OH radicals into acetaldehyde, methanol, and other compounds. It seems that acetaldehyde could be an intermediate in acetone decomposition. Firstly, most of the acetone molecules were decomposed into acetaldehyde molecules; then, the acetaldehyde molecules continued to be decomposed and oxidized into other compounds, such as acetic acid and formaldehyde. These investigations not only proposed a detail decomposition mechanism for acetone in dielectric barrier discharge reactor, but also provided a potential way to analyze and evaluate the practicability of NTP removal of VOCs.


Dielectric barrier discharge Acetone PTR-TOF-MS Organic by-products Removal mechanism 


Funding information

This study received financial support from China Instrumentation Program (No.2017YFF0106000) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.41877374)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental and Chemical EngineeringShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Kunshan Hexin Mass Spectrometry Technology Co., Ltd.KunshanChina
  3. 3.Institute of Mass Spectrometer and Atmospheric EnvironmentJinan UniversityGuangzhouChina

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