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Evaluation of a non-thermal plasma generator for plasma-assisted combustion in an oil burner




Doyle, Jake Downin, author
Yalin, Azer, advisor
Joshi, Sachin, advisor
Marchese, Anthony, committee member
Collins, George, committee member

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The addition of plasma to a combustion system has the potential to increase the combustion efficiency and reduce harmful emissions by reforming hydrocarbon fuels. The ability for plasma to reform fuel to create hydrogen-rich synthesis gas has been shown by other researchers. The work presented in this thesis includes the characterization of a plasma generator patented by Clean Diesel, LLC and testing an oil burner that was modified to use the plasma generator for combustion enhancement. The plasma was generated by six electrodes with a circulating high voltage pulse created by a signal generator and high voltage transformers. The plasma is characterized through optical emission spectroscopy and with electrical measurements, where it was shown to be a non-thermal plasma operating in the glow-to-arc transition region. The plasma generator was then implemented into an oil burner where its thermal efficiency and emissions were compared to that of a stock Riello F10 burner. Testing showed similar efficiencies for the modified and stock burners (contrary to previous testing that showed improvements due to plasma assistance). Carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides were considered as the key pollutants, and it was shown that NOx emissions exceeded that of the stock burner, although CO levels were reduced. Further testing was performed with additional modifications such as fuel spray type, electrode insulation, and plasma frequency, although none showed significant improvements in its operation. The results have led to the realization that a more volumetric plasma that can provide longer residence time for fuel interaction is likely needed for effective fuel reforming.


2013 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.

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oil burner
plasma fuel reforming
plasma assisted combustion


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