Development of a Laboratory-Scale Thermal-Arc-Plasma Reactor and its Application in the Pyrolysis of Petroleum Oily Sludge

  • Abubakar M. Ali Department of Chemical Engineering, Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna- Nigeria.
  • Mohd A. Abu-Hassan Department of Chemical Engineering, Universiti Teknology Malaysia, Johor-Malaysia.
  • Raja R.K. Ibrahim Department of Physics, Universiti Technologi Malaysia, Johor-Malaysia.
  • Bala I. Abdulkarim Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Abuja, Abuja-Nigeria.
Keywords: Thermal plasma, petroleum oily sludge, Plasma arc temperature, Mass reduction, Carbon conversion


Waste treatment using thermal arc plasma is well established and laboratory/pilot scale plasma reactors were developed and their performances for the destruction of different hazardous wastes, other than petroleum oily sludge, were studied. This work aims to extend the plasma technology to the pyrolysis of hazardous petroleum oily sludge. A 4.7 kW thermal arc plasma reactor was developed using a standard TIG arc welding torch. The transferred arc plasma reactor was used to treat 20 g/batch of petroleum oily sludge. The prevailing temperature inside the reactor ranges between 356 – 1694 oC. The plasma arc temperature increased with increasing plasma arc current and also with increasing plasma gas flow-rate. A vitreous slag and a flue gas were generated as products. A mass reduction of between 36.87 – 91.40% and a TOC reduction of 21.47 – 93.76% were achieved in the treatment time of 2 – 5 min. The mass reduction was observed to increase with treatment time. However, the increase was more rapid between the 3rd and the 4th min of the treatment. The flue gas produced contains H2 (43.79 – 50.97 mol%), H2O (26.60 – 30.22 mol%), CO (8.45 – 11.18 mol%), CO2 (5.12 – 10.35 mol%), CH4 (2.17 – 3.38 mol%), C2H2 (0.86 – 2.69 mol%) and C2H4 (0.76 – 2.17 mol%). Thus, the thermal plasma reactor provides a suitable method of treating petroleum oily sludge.


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How to Cite
M. Ali, A., A. Abu-Hassan, M., R.K. Ibrahim, R., & I. Abdulkarim, B. (2020). Development of a Laboratory-Scale Thermal-Arc-Plasma Reactor and its Application in the Pyrolysis of Petroleum Oily Sludge. Frontiers in Advanced Materials Research, 2(1), 15-27.

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