Uniform nanoparticles by flame-assisted spray pyrolysis (FASP) of low cost precursors
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A new flame-assisted spray pyrolysis (FASP) reactor design is presented, which allows the use of inexpensive precursors and solvents (e.g., ethanol) for synthesis of nanoparticles (10–20 nm) with uniform characteristics. In this reactor design, a gas-assisted atomizer generates the precursor solution spray that is mixed and combusted with externally fed inexpensive fuel gases (acetylene or methane) at a defined height above the atomizing nozzle. The gaseous fuel feed can be varied to control the combustion enthalpy content of the flame and onset of particle formation. This way, the enthalpy density of the flame is decoupled from the precursor solution composition. Low enthalpy content precursor solutions are prone to synthesis of non-uniform particles (e.g., bimodal particle size distribution) by standard flame spray pyrolysis (FSP) processes. For example, metal nitrates in ethanol typically produce nanosized particles by gas-to-particle conversion along with larger particles by droplet-to-particle conversion. The present FASP design facilitates the use of such low enthalpy precursor solutions for synthesis of homogeneous nanopowders by increasing the combustion enthalpy density of the flame with low-cost, gaseous fuels. The effect of flame enthalpy density on product properties in the FASP configuration is explored by the example of Bi2O3 nanoparticles produced from bismuth nitrate in ethanol. Product powders were characterized by nitrogen adsorption, X-ray diffraction, X-ray disk centrifuge, and transmission electron microscopy. Homogeneous Bi2O3 nanopowders were produced both by increasing the gaseous fuel content and, most notably, by cutting the air entrainment prior to ignition of the spray.
KeywordsBi2O3 Flame assisted spray pyrolysis Flame spray pyrolysis Gas phase synthesis Low-cost production Flame enthalpy density Product homogeneity Bimodal size distribution
The support of Dr. F. Krumeich for TEM is gratefully acknowledged, as well as financial support by ETH Research Grant TH-23 06-3 and European Research Council.
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