Valorization of Glycerol through Plasma-Induced Transformation into Formic Acid

Seunghwan Bang, Ramses Snoeckx, Min Suk Cha*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To cope with climate change issues, a significant shift is required in worldwide energy sources. Hydrogen and bioenergy are being considered as alternatives toward a carbon neutral society, making formic acid – a hydrogen carrying product of glycerol – of interest for the valorization of glycerol. Here we investigate the plasma-induced transformation of glycerol in an aqueous nanosecond repetitively pulsed discharge reactor. We found that the water content in the aqueous mixture fulfilled a crucial role in both the gas phase (as a source of OH radicals) and the liquid phase (as a promotor of the dissolved OH radical's mobility and reactivity). The formic acid produced was linearly proportional to the specific input energy, and the most cost-effective production of formic acid was found with 10 % v/v glycerol in the aqueous mixture. A plausible reaction pathway was proposed, consisting of the OH radical-driven dehydrogenation and dehydration of glycerol. The results provide a fundamental understanding of plasma-induced transformation of glycerol to formic acid and insights for future practical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere202300925
Issue number3
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Wiley-VCH GmbH.


  • formic acid
  • glycerol
  • hydroxyl radical
  • oxidation
  • plasma chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • General Energy


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