Plasma Chemistry and Plasma Processing

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 271–279

Study of the Production of Hydrogen and Light Hydrocarbons by Spark Discharges in Diesel, Kerosene, Gasoline, and Methane


    • Frank Reidy Research Center for BioelectricsOld Dominion University
  • David Hughes
    • The Math and Science AcademyOcean Lakes High School
  • Areej Malik
    • Granby High School
  • Shu Xiao
    • Frank Reidy Research Center for BioelectricsOld Dominion University
  • Karl H. Schoenbach
    • Frank Reidy Research Center for BioelectricsOld Dominion University
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11090-012-9429-1

Cite this article as:
Malik, M.A., Hughes, D., Malik, A. et al. Plasma Chem Plasma Process (2013) 33: 271. doi:10.1007/s11090-012-9429-1


Reforming liquid fuels into hydrogen and light hydrocarbons is desirable for improving the combustion characteristics of the fuels and the production of reducing agents for applications such as the removal of nitrogen oxides. In this study, diesel, kerosene, gasoline and methane were reformed by spark discharges between needle and plate electrodes at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. The gaseous products from liquid fuels comprised 65–70 % hydrogen and 30–35 % light hydrocarbons having two carbon atoms per molecule (i.e., C2s), or three carbon atoms per molecule (i.e., C3s). The product gases were 90 % hydrogen and 10 % C2s in the case of methane reforming. The energy efficiency for the production of gaseous products was highest in the case of gasoline at 3.8 mol/kWh, followed by kerosene, diesel and methane at 3.2, 3.0, and 2.4 mol/kWh, respectively. These results were found to be comparable to those reported by others for the reforming of pure hydrocarbons by plasmas in liquids. The liquid fuels turned black due to the formation of carbonaceous products, some of which could be filtered out as solid carbon particles, but others remained dissolved and imparted color to the treated liquid.


Spark dischargesReformingDieselKeroseneGasolineMethaneNon-equilibrium plasmaHydrogen

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012