Abstract Sulfur dioxide (SO2) removal via pulsed discharge nonthermal plasma in the absence of ammonia was investigated to determine how electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) can effectively collect particulate matter less than 2.5μm in diameter from flue gas. SO2 removal increased as water vapor concentration increased. In a wet-type plasma reactor, directing a gas-phase discharge plasma toward the water film surface significantly enhanced the liquid-phase oxidation of HSO3− to SO42−. Comparisons of various absorbents revealed that the hydroxyl radical is a key factor in plasma-induced liquid-phase reactions. The resistivity, size distribution, and cohesive force of fly ash at different water vapor contents were measured using a Bahco centrifuge, which is a dust electrical resistivity test instrument, as well as a cohesive force test apparatus developed by the researchers. When water vapor content increased by 5%, fly ash resistivity in flue gas decreased by approximately two orders of magnitude, adhesive force and size increased, and specific surface area decreased. Therefore, ESP efficiency increased.