, Volume 78, Issue 3-4, pp 239-251,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 22 May 2012

Mechanisms and Kinetics of Liquid Silicon Oxidation During Industrial Refining

Abstract

During oxidative ladle refining (OLR) of silicon, the metal surface is partly oxidized, resulting in the formation of a condensed silica fume (SiO2). This fugitive emission of silica represents a potential health hazard to the workers in the silicon and ferrosilicon industry. In the current work, industrial measurement campaigns aimed at recording the fume generation during OLR were performed at the Elkem Salten plant in Norway. The measured amounts of silica produced were 2.5–5.1 kg/h, depending on the gas flow rate in the refining process. The rate of silica production correlates with the total flow rate and amount of air in the purge gas, and increases as the flow rate increases. The results of this work suggest that fume generation during OLR primarily results from oxidation of the exposed metal surface, with oxygen transport from the surrounding atmosphere to the metal surface being the limiting factor. Other identified mechanisms of SiO2 formation were splashing of the metal and/or oxidation of SiO gas carried with the refining purge gas.