An apparatus and process that utilize a low temperature nonequilibrium plasma reactor, for improving the particulate removal efficiency of an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) are disclosed. A portion of the flue gas, that contains a low level of SO.sub.2 O.sub.2 H.sub.2 O, and particulate matter, is passed through a low temperature plasma reactor, which defines a plasma volume, thereby oxidizing a portion of the SO.sub.2 present in the flue gas into SO.sub.3. An SO.sub.2 rich flue gas is thereby generated. The SO.sub.3 rich flue gas is then returned to the primary flow of the flue gas in the exhaust treatment system prior to the ESP. This allows the SO.sub.3 to react with water to form H.sub.2 SO.sub.4 that is in turn is absorbed by fly ash in the gas stream in order to improve the removal efficiency of the EPS.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-31-109-Eng-38 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Chicago representing Argonne National Laboratory.