ARB Research Seminar

This page updated June 19, 2013

Destruction of VOCs and Toxics Using a Microwave-Induced Plasma Torch

Ian Kennedy, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, and Daniel P.Y. Chang, Ph.D., Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Davis

February 23, 2001
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Research Project


The ARB recently funded a research study that demonstrated the effectiveness of microwave plasma for the destruction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air contaminants (TACs). The UC Davis researchers used a microwave-induced plasma torch was used to destroy both trichloroethylene (TCE, a TAC) and toluene (a VOC) in gas streams. No NOx or toxic byproducts were detected. UCD previously found that microwaves and gases could successfully regenerate adsorbent beds by purging adsorbed VOCs. The microwave plasma torch is ideally suited for a combined system in which steam-regenerated adsorbent beds are used for the concentration of dilute streams of pollutants. Because the plasma was produced using power within the range of consumer microwaves, the cost should not be prohibitive. If this system can be commercialized, a valuable, cost-effective VOC / toxics control method would become available for many stationary sources of emissions. CalPoly (San Luis Obispo) intends to conduct a preliminary design for a commercially sized unit, and estimate the cost.

Speaker Biography

Ian Kennedy is a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, and Associate Dean for the College of Engineering at the University of California, Davis. His main research Interests are in combustion, laser diagnostics, aerosol formation and the health effects of combustion.

Daniel P.Y. Chang is a professor and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis. His research interests are in the areas of the physico-chemical behavior of air pollutants and their effects on human health. In recent years, he has had particular interest in toxic air contaminants, their measurement, production and control by biological treatment and combustion of chlorinated wastes.

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