, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 939-950,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 20 May 2011

Study of Pellets and Lumps as Raw Materials in Silicon Production from Quartz and Silicon Carbide

The use of high-purity carbon and quartz raw materials reduces the need for comprehensive refining steps after the silicon has been produced carbothermically in the electric reduction furnace. The current work aims at comparing the reaction mechanisms and kinetics occurring in the inner part of the reduction furnace when pellets or lumpy charge is used, as well as the effect of the raw material mix. Laboratory-scale carbothermic reduction experiments have been carried out in an induction furnace. High-purity silicon carbide and two different high-purity hydrothermal quartzes were charged as raw materials at different molar ratios. The charge was in the form of lumps (size, 2–5 mm) or as powder (size, 10–20 μm), mixed and agglomerated as pellets (size, 1–3 mm) and reacted at 2273 K (2000 °C). The thermal properties of the quartzes were measured also by heating a small piece of quartz in CO atmosphere. The investigated quartzes have different reactivity in reducing atmosphere. The carbothermal reduction experiments show differences in the reacted charge between pellets and lumps as charge material. Solid–gas reactions take place from the inside of the pellets porosity, whereas reactions in lumps occur topochemically. Silicon in pellets is produced mainly in the rim zone. Larger volumes of silicon have been found when using lumpy charge. More SiO is produced when using pellets than for lumpy SiO2 for the same molar ratio and heating conditions. The two SiC polytypes used in the carbothermal reduction experiments as carbon reductants presented different reactivity.

Manuscript submitted February 26, 2011.