Research Projects

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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2019 TOPIC AREA: Sustainability, energy, and health Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: NCST

Recycling Diesel Soot Particles for Use as Activated Carbon in Li Ion Batteries

Project Summary

Project number: NCST-19-21
Funding source: US DOT
Contract number: 69A3551747114
Funding amount: $100,000
Performance period: 5/16/2020 to 5/15/2022

Project description

The objective of this proposal is to demonstrate an aftermarket "retrofit kit" for small (10-30kW) diesel generators, capable of capturing particulate matter (PM) emissions (i.e., soot) to levels below Tier 4 standards using electrostatic precipitation (ESP). These 10-30kW diesel generators are typically used on refrigerated shipping containers and truck refrigeration units (TRUs). This project will demonstrate the ability to capture and recycle these soot particles for use as activated carbon in Li ion batteries. The ultimate outcome is a near-zero emissions product that can be deployed in California and throughout the country. In addition to retrofits of older non-compliant refrigeration units, this pollution control device can be incorporated into new TRUs (e.g., through Carrier Transicold or ThermoKing), enabling CARB and EPA emissions standards to be met with a cheaper engine. Furthermore, the research team is anticipating further, more strict regulations to be implemented by CARB in the near future, which will impose even more stringent emissions requirements on diesel-powered truck refrigeration units. In addition to the remediation provided by the highly reactive chemical species in the plasma (e.g., atomic oxygen), an electrostatic precipitator is used to collect the charged particulate matter. If successful, this project will provide a robust method for recycling toxic particulate material (i.e., soot) from diesel exhaust to be used as activated carbon in Li ion batteries.


Stephen Cronin
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics and Astronomy
Charles Lee Powell Hall, PHE 624
3737 Watt WayLos Angeles, CA 90089-0271
United States
[email protected]


Martin Gundersen
Professor, Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science; USC Viterbi School of Engineering
920 Bloom Walk
Frank R. Seaver Science Center (SSC) 421Los Angeles, CA 90089-0483
United States
[email protected]