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Microfluidic chips for plasma flow chemistry. Application to controlled oxidative processes.


This paper relates the integration of nonthermal plasma inside a biphasic gas-liquid microfluidic chip. It evaluates the ability of plasma activation to become a synthetic tool in organic chemistry, operating in mild conditions (room temperature, atmospheric pressure) and without catalyst. Few preceding works on plasma chemistry involved a liquid phase and none of them was able to han- dle the high reactivity of plasma to achieve both high conversion rate and selective reactions. We fabricated a glass-polymer microfluidic chip comprising a one metre long serpentine channel, in which a parallel gas-liquid flow was stabilized thanks to a specific step-like cross-sectional shape. Transparent ITO electrodes, deposited on both sides of the chip and linked to a AC high voltage source, produced a dielectric barrier discharge all along the channel. We assessed the behaviour of the flow through optical observations and characterized the discharge through electrical mea- surements and real time intensified-CCD monitoring. We report the successful treatment of liquid cyclohexane with an oxygen plasma inside our chip. The GC analysis of the outflowing liquid re- vealed only a partial oxidation of cyclohexane into a mixture of cyclohexanol, cyclohexanol (both industrially known as "KA oil"), and cyclohexyl hydroperoxide, with a total selectivity above 70% and conversion up to 30%. This indicates that alkanes can be activated and functionalized by means of plasma discharges, in a controlled way. In that respect, we claim to have successfully overcome some of the barriers to an industrially relevant plasma chemistry. We believe that the combined use of plasma and microfluidic technologies is essential to the development of this new field of research.

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Publication details

The article was received on 06 Jul 2018, accepted on 26 Sep 2018 and first published on 04 Oct 2018

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8RE00122G
Citation: React. Chem. Eng., 2018, Accepted Manuscript
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    Microfluidic chips for plasma flow chemistry. Application to controlled oxidative processes.

    J. Wengler, S. Ognier, M. Zhang, E. Levernier, C. Guyon, C. Ollivier, L. Fensterbank and M. Tatoulian, React. Chem. Eng., 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C8RE00122G

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