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A Microfluidic Atmospheric-Pressure Plasma Reactor for Water Treatment

Patinglag, Laila and Sawtell, David and Iles, Alex and Melling, Louise M and Shaw, Kirsty J (2019) A Microfluidic Atmospheric-Pressure Plasma Reactor for Water Treatment. Plasma Chemistry and Plasma Processing. ISSN 1572-8986

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Abstract

A dielectric barrier discharge microfluidic plasma reactor, operated at atmospheric pressure, was studied for its potential to treat organic contaminants in water. Microfluidic technology represents a compelling approach for plasma-based water treatment due to inherent characteristics such as a large surface-area-to-volume ratio and flow control, in inexpensive and portable devices. The microfluidic device in this work incorporated a dielectric barrier discharge generated in a continuous gas flow stream of a two-phase annular flow regime in the microchannels of the device. Methylene blue in solution was used to investigate plasma induced degradation of dissolved organic compounds within the microfluidic device. The relative degradation rates of methylene blue were influenced by the residence time of the sample solution in the discharge zone, type of gas applied, channel depth and flow rate. Increasing the residence time inside the plasma region led to higher levels of degradation. Oxygen was found to be the most effective gas, with the spectra obtained using Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy indicating the most significant degradation. By reducing the channel depth from 100 to 50 µm, the best results were obtained, achieving a greater than 97% level of methylene blue degradation. The microfluidic system presented here demonstrates proof-of-concept that plasma technology can be utilised as an advanced oxidation process for water treatment, with the potential to eliminate water treatment consumables such as filters and disinfectants.

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