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International Journal of Chemical Engineering
Volume 2018, Article ID 2957194, 12 pages
Review Article

Converting a Microwave Oven into a Plasma Reactor: A Review

School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University College Dublin, Belfield D04 V1W8, Dublin 4, Ireland

Correspondence should be addressed to Victor J. Law; moc.liamg@66walciv

Received 21 February 2018; Accepted 17 April 2018; Published 21 May 2018

Academic Editor: Michael Harris

Copyright © 2018 Victor J. Law and Denis P. Dowling. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper reviews the use of domestic microwave ovens as plasma reactors for applications ranging from surface cleaning to pyrolysis and chemical synthesis. This review traces the developments from initial reports in the 1980s to today’s converted ovens that are used in proof-of-principle manufacture of carbon nanostructures and batch cleaning of ion implant ceramics. Information sources include the US and Korean patent office, peer-reviewed papers, and web references. It is shown that the microwave oven plasma can induce rapid heterogeneous reaction (solid to gas and liquid to gas/solid) plus the much slower plasma-induced solid state reaction (metal oxide to metal nitride). A particular focus of this review is the passive and active nature of wire aerial electrodes, igniters, and thermal/chemical plasma catalyst in the generation of atmospheric plasma. In addition to the development of the microwave oven plasma, a further aspect evaluated is the development of methodologies for calibrating the plasma reactors with respect to microwave leakage, calorimetry, surface temperature, DUV-UV content, and plasma ion densities.