, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1427-1445,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 26 Sep 2012

Vacuum Refining of Molten Silicon


Metallurgical fundamentals for vacuum refining of molten silicon and the behavior of different impurities in this process are studied. A novel mass transfer model for the removal of volatile impurities from silicon in vacuum induction refining is developed. The boundary conditions for vacuum refining system—the equilibrium partial pressures of the dissolved elements and their actual partial pressures under vacuum—are determined through thermodynamic and kinetic approaches. It is indicated that the vacuum removal kinetics of the impurities is different, and it is controlled by one, two, or all the three subsequent reaction mechanisms—mass transfer in a melt boundary layer, chemical evaporation on the melt surface, and mass transfer in the gas phase. Vacuum refining experimental results of this study and literature data are used to study the model validation. The model provides reliable results and shows correlation with the experimental data for many volatile elements. Kinetics of phosphorus removal, which is an important impurity in the production of solar grade silicon, is properly predicted by the model, and it is observed that phosphorus elimination from silicon is significantly increased with increasing process temperature.