Conversion of methane through dielectric-barrier discharge plasma


Methane coupling to produce C2 hydrocarbons through a dielectric-barrier discharge (DBD) plasma reaction was studied in four DBD reactors. The effects of high voltage electrode position, different discharge gap, types of inner electrode, volume ratio of hydrogen to methane and air cooling method on the conversion of methane and distribution of products were investigated. Conversion of methane is obviously lower when a high voltage electrode acts as an outer electrode than when it acts as an inner electrode. The lifting of reaction temperature becomes slow due to cooling of outer electrode and the temperature can be controlled in the expected range of 60°C–150°C for ensuring better methane conversion and safe operation. The parameters of reactors have obvious effects on methane conversion, but it only slightly affects distribution of the products. The main products are ethylene, ethane and propane. The selectivity of C2 hydrocarbons can reach 74.50% when volume ratio of hydrogen to methane is 1.50.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Lunsford J H. Catalytic conversion of methane to more useful chemicals and fuels: a challenge for the 21st century. Catal Today, 2000, 63(2–4): 165–174

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Spiess F J, Suib S L, Irie K, Hayashi Y, Matsumoto H. Metal effect and flow rate effect in the hydrogen production from methane. Catal Today, 2004, 89(1–2): 35–45

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Chang M B, Huang C P. Oxidative conversion of methane via plasma processing with dielectric barrier discharge. J Adv Oxid Technol, 1999, 4(3): 333–338

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Li X S, Zhu A M, Wang K J, Xu Y, Song Z M. Methane conversion to C2 hydrocarbons and hydrogen in atmosphericnon-thermal plasmas generated by different electric discharge techniques. Catal Today, 2004, 98(4): 617–624

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Kado S, Sekine Y, Nozaki T, Okazaki K. Diagnosis of atmospheric pressure low temperature plasma and application to high efficient methane conversion. Catal Today, 2004, 89(1–2): 47–55

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Zou J J, Li Y, Zhang Y P, Liu C J. Product distribution of conversions of methane and carbon dioxide using dielectric barrier discharge. Acta Physico-chimica Sinica, 2002, 18(8): 759–763 (in Chinese)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Lu J, Li Z H, Wang B W, Xu G H. Effect of reactor type on methane conversion to C2 hydrocarbons by low temperature plasma. Journal of Fuel Chemistry and Technology, 2005, 33(6): 755–759 (in Chinese)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Wang B W, Xu G H. Conversion natural gas to C2 hydrocarbons through dielectric-barrier discharge plasma catalysis. Science in China (B), 2002, 45(3): 299–310

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    He J X, Hu M, Han Y Y, Li Y H, Zhou Y S, Lu Z G. Decomposition of methane and formation of C2 hydrocarbons in DC discharge plasma. Petrochemical Technology, 2004, 33(1): 1–4 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Dai B, Zhang X L, Gong W M, He R. Advance in research on plasma catalytic conversion of methane. Petrochemical Technology, 2002, 31(2): 141–144 (in Chinese)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Xia M Y, Cui J H, Xu G H. A new process for converting natural gas to C2 hydrocarbon. Petrochemical Technology, 2003, 32(7): 141–144 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Baowei Wang.

Additional information


Translated from Petrochemical Technology, 2007, 36(11): 1099–1103 [译自: 石油化工]

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wang, B., Cao, X., Yang, K. et al. Conversion of methane through dielectric-barrier discharge plasma. Front. Chem. Eng. China 2, 373–378 (2008).

Download citation


  • methane
  • dielectric-barrier discharge
  • plasma
  • C2 hydrocarbon
  • reactor