Lien-Te Hsieh 1,2, Cheng-Hsien Tsai3, Juu-En Chang4, Meng-Chun Tsao4

  • 1 Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, 1 Shuefu Fu Road, Pingtung 912, Taiwan
  • 2 Emerging Compounds Research Center (ECOREC), National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, 1 Shuefu Fu Road, Pingtung 912, Taiwan
  • 3 Department of Chemical and Material Engineering, National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan
  • 4 Department of Environmental Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan

Received: February 24, 2011
Revised: March 14, 2011
Accepted: March 14, 2011
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Cite this article:
Hsieh, L.T., Tsai, C.H., Chang, J.E. and Tsao, M.C. (2011). Decomposition of Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether by Adding Hydrogen in a Cold Plasma Reactor. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 11: 265-281.



Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) is extensively used as an oxygenate and octane enhancer in gasoline. Its release to the environment has generated great public and governmental concern. In this study, we give a brief review of the decomposition of air toxics by the application of radio frequency (RF) plasma reactors and then present our study on decomposition of methyl tert-butyl ether by adding hydrogen in a cold plasma reactor. Based on our references, there are four types of the application in the RF plasma reactors are discussed, including: (i) Application I.: Converting methane, decomposing carbon dioxide, ethoxyethane, and ethylene oxide; (ii) Application II.: Decomposing methyl chloride, 1,1-C2H2Cl2, and CH2Cl2; (iii) Application III.: Decomposing dichlorodifluoromethane, CHF3, CH2F2, CCl2F2, and BF3; (iv) Application IV.: Decomposing dichlorodifluoromethane, CH3SH, CS2, SF6, and SF6 + H2S mixture. Moreover, this study demonstrates the feasibility of applying a radio frequency (RF) plasma reactor for decomposing and converting MTBE. Experimental results indicate that the decomposition efficiency (ηMTBE) and the fraction of total input carbon converted into CH4, C2H2 and C2H4 (FCH4+C2H2+ C2H4) increased with the input power and decreased as both the H2/MTBE ratio and the MTBE influent concentration in the MTBE/H2/Ar plasma environment increased. Interestingly, applying radio frequency plasma to the decomposition of MTBE while adding hydrogen constitutes alternative method of decomposing and converting MTBE into CH4, C2H4, C2H2, iso-butane and iso-butene.

Keywords: Plasma; Decomposition; Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE); Radio-frequency (RF); Reaction

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