Low-Temperature Microplasma-Assisted Hydrogen Production from Biogas for Electricity Generation

Low-temperature microplasma-assisted hydrogen production from biogas for clean electricity generation

The Regents of the University of California, Merced


Merced, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Projects Updates/The Results

This project was completed in 2019. The project team designed and built a plasma reactor and tested its performance for a range of operating conditions. The following are the key findings: [br /]
1) The highest registered conversion rate of CH4 and CO2 to syngas (mixture of H2 and CO) was about 30% for the conditions tested in this project (30% of injected gas was converted to hydrogen). [br /]
2) The model developed specifically for this projects predicts that an array of subsequently connected microplasma reactors working in tandem would improve the performance (conversion rate). [br /]
3) Compared to hydrogen production using electrolysis (splitting of water molecules into H2 and O2 by the means of electricity), the plasma reactor consumes twice as much power (125 W vs. 56 W to produce about 200 ml of H2 in a minute)

The Issue

Clean fuels are a critical component of solutions to climate change and local air quality. The development of cow-cost efficient hydrogen (H2) production from renewable sources such as biogas will be important if hydrogen is going to serve as a major source of clean fuel.

Project Innovation

The purpose of this project is to demonstrate operation of a low-temperature microplasma reactor that will lead to an efficient, electricity-based technique to convert a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane into hydrogen for use in electricity generation. If successful, this technology could be adapted to use other gas inputs in the creation of hydrogen, such as products from the gasification of biomass.

Project Benefits

Determination of optimal operating parameters for microplasma array reactors to achieve maximum efficiency is an important step in overcoming barriers for advancement of technology converting biogas to syngas. Successful lab-scale demonstration can serve as the proof of concept and lead to farther development of this technology, which has the potential to generate emissions-free hydrogen for use in hydrogen-fueled ZEVs.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental & Public Health

The production of syngas from a biogas using a low-temperature microplasma is more energy-efficient compared to a syngas production by gasification or pyrolysis and would allow for energy savings. Furthermore, syngas from renewable resources produces very low emissions and reduces the carbon footprint from electricity generation.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Venkattramann Ayyaswamy

Assisant Professor

Contact the Team