Plasma-Chemical Conversion of Methane, Ethane, Propane, and Natural Gas into Syngas (CO–H2) and other Hydrogen-Rich Mixtures
General Features of Plasma-Assisted Production of Hydrogen from Hydrocarbons: Plasma Catalysis
Industrial demand for H2 and H2-rich gases is growing, resulting in the development of the hydrogen energy concept in energy production and transportation (Hoffmann & Harkin, 2002; Ewing, 2004). Hydrogen production plays a key role in the development of fuel cell technology and should be especially noted (Busby, 2005). Also the conversion of natural gas into syngas (CO–H2 mixture) plays an important role in natural gas liquefaction and numerous processes of organic synthesis (Smith, 2001). Conventional thermo-catalytic technology for H2 production is limited by relatively low specific productivity, high metal capacity, and the large equipment size, which becomes especially important in the case of small- and medium-scale H2-generation systems. The application of plasma in the production of hydrogen and syngas creates an attractive alternative to conventional thermo-catalytic technologies (Deminsky et al., 2002). Plasma stimulation of hydrogen-rich gas production results in a significant increase of specific productivity and reduces the capital and operational costs of the process. The use of traditional catalysis is often limited by a time delay based on heating the catalyst to the required high temperature, which is especially critical in transportation applications such as hydrogen production from hydrocarbons on board a vehicle. The plasma method of hydrogen production has almost no inertia, which makes the plasma approach very attractive to the automotive industry.