This work investigated the decomposition of dilute N2O from gas streams with various oxygen contents by using a plasma-catalytic process over metal oxide catalysts supported on γ-Al2O3. Among the metals explored (Ru, Co, Cu, V, etc.), Ru was found to be the best catalyst for the decomposition of N2O in a plasma-catalytic reactor, and most of the experiments were conducted with alumina-supported Ru. The effects of applied voltage, reaction temperature, O2 content, gas flow rate and initial N2O content on the decomposition efficiency and byproducts formation were examined. Compared to the catalyst-alone case, the presence of plasma enhanced the decomposition efficiency by 30-50%, depending on the operating condition. The increase in the oxygen content from 0 to 20% largely decreased the catalytic decomposition efficiency, whereas in the presence of plasma N2O could be successfully decomposed even at 20% O2 content. The decomposition efficiency was not a strong function of the initial N2O concentration in the range of 225-1800 ppm, exhibiting pseudo first-order reaction kinetics. Without O2, there were negligible byproducts, but in the presence of O2, NO and NO2 were formed mainly due to the plasma-induced reactions between background molecules such as N2 and O2. The results obtained in this work showed the feasibility of plasma-catalytic process for the abatement of N2O.
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