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University of Padova

Via Marzolo, 1
35131 Padova

Contact email:

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Brief presentation of the institution

The University of Padova, founded in 1222 is one of the oldest in Europe and presently ranks first for the quality of research among Italian universities. The Department of Chemical Sciences has about about one hundred scientists (professors and researchers) involved in scientific research and approximately the same number of graduate students and post-docs. For its rich and interdisciplinary cultural environment and excellent instrumentation and infrastructures, the Department of Chemical Sciences provides an ideal setting for carrying out research at the highest level. Available analytical instrumentation includes state-of-the-art UPLCs and HPLCs, high-field NMR spectrometers, infrared spectrometers (FT-IR, NIR and FIR), high and low resolution mass spectrometers LC-ESI/APCI/APPI MS-MS, MALDI, fluorometers and all kinds of spectrophotometers, as well as diagnostic equipment for material sciences and plasma sciences.

Main Plasma with liquids related topics

The PLASMACHOR group is studying and developing chemical processes activated by atmospheric plasma of interest for the environment and for energy. Specific areas of research include:

- Air remediation. A large wire-cylinder corona reactor,  is used to study the efficiency, products and mechanisms of VOC oxidation in air plasma at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. Electrical discharges are produced by the application of either DC or pulsed high voltage of negative or positive polarity. On-line analysis of treated gas are performed with FT-IR and GC coupled with different detectors (TCD, MSD, FID). Studies of ion chemistry induced by DC discharges are also performed using an APCI (Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization)-quadrupole mass spectrometer. Optical emission spectroscopy is used to detect and monitor the plasma excited species under the different experimental conditions tested.

- Water remediation. Two reactors in which a DC discharge or a DBD is applied to the air above the water surface are employed for the decomposition of organic pollutants. The main tasks are the identification of the reactive species involved in the process, the understanding of their meachnism of formation, the study of their reaction mechanism with the organic pollutants. The main means of investigation applied are an accurate analysis of the intermediates and of the products of the process, obtained by the use of various analytical instruments and in particular of HPLC/UV-Vis/ESI-MS/MS for organic compounds and FT-IR for CO2, and the study of the effect of the experimental variables, as for example the initial concentration of the pollutant and the pH of the solution. The comparison of the process activated by air plasma with ozonation and with the processes activated by plasma in argon and in nitrogen is also largely applied to understand the reaction which take place into the system.

3- Dry reforming of methane: a prototypal self-triggered spark discharge reactor has been developed for the reforming of methane with CO2. The reactor is a quartz tubing with two quartz flanges of 100 mm of diameter welded on the ends and a quartz ring placed in the middle of this tube. The top and bottom parts of the quartz casing of the reactor are filled with ceramic discs while the electrodes for plasma production are placed in the central zone of the tube and consist in a tip, to which the high voltage is applied, and a conical counter electrode covered by a stainless steel mesh, 15 mm distant from the tip and connected to ground. With a flow rate of 100 mL/min, an input power of 20 W, and a CO2:CH4 molar ratio of 1 high conversion (71% for CH4 and 65% for CO2), selectivity (78% for H2 and 86% for CO) and energy efficiency (2.3-2.4 mmol•kJ-1) are achieved and the stability of the discharge is excellent.

Main Plasma with liquids related research techniques and equipment

Instrumentation for chemical analysis in liquid and gaseous mixtures:
– HPLC chromatography with photo diode array UV/Vis and mass spectrometer detection. The mass spectrometer can operate  with ESI or APCI or APPI as source and is equipped with an ion trap as analyzer, which allows to acquire MS but also MSn mass spectra.

– GC chromatography with TCD, FID and MS detection


- Ion chromatography

Instrumentation for the study of ionization and ion/molecule reactions in plasma:

- APCI (Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization)-quadrupole mass spectrometry



Brief information on available facilities related to Plasma with liquids

Two reactors for water treatment:

- DBD reactor constituted by a glass vessel (95x75x60 mm) having a teflon cover with four passing electrodes of stainless steel which support two parallel wires fixed upon their tips. The wires, made of stainless steel, are kept above the aqueous solution (70 mL). The outside surface of the reactor base is covered with a film of silver and connected to a grounded plate. The reactor is powered with an AC high voltage transformer with 16.5-18 kV and a frequency of 50 Hz.

- Reactor made in perspex with 7 parallel stainless steel wires kept above the solution. A higher volume of solution can be treated with this device (200 mL). A DC discharge of postive or negative polarity or a DBD can be applied.

Willingness to accept/host visiting researchers

Participation in Working Groups


  • 60A03-7595 ex-60%
    Project type: National
    Funding: University of Padova
  • PRAT-UniPd CPDA147395/14
    Project type: National
    Funding: University of Padova


  • Claudio Ceretta

    Position: Consultant
  • Elisa Ceriani

    Position: Post Doc
  • Agata Giardina

    Position: PhD student
  • Renato Gobbo

    Position: Researcher
  • Ester Marotta

    Position: Associate Professor
  • Cristina Paradisi

    Position: Professor
  • Giancarlo Pesavento

    Position: Professor

Image Gallery:

Corona reactor and experimental set-up for air treatment via plasma activated advanced oxidation of VOCs
Corona reactor and experimental set-up for air treatment via plasma activated advanced oxidation of VOCs

DBD reactor for water treatment
DBD reactor for water treatment

Reactor for water treatment energized by a DC corona or a dielectric barrier discharge
Reactor for water treatment energized by a DC corona or a dielectric barrier discharge




OES spectrograph
OES spectrograph

Self-triggered spark reactor for methan dry reforming
Self-triggered spark reactor for methan dry reforming

Action Office

Working groups

Core Group

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