Effect of carrier gas composition on transferred arc metal nanoparticle synthesis
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Metal nanoparticles are used in a great number of applications; an effective and economical production scaling-up is hence desirable. A simple and cost-effective transferred arc process is developed, which produces pure metal (Zn, Cu, and Ag) nanoparticles with high production rates, while allowing fast optimization based on energy efficiency. Different carrier gas compositions, as well as the electrode arrangements and the power input are investigated to improve the production and its efficiency and to understand the arc production behavior. The production rates are determined by a novel process monitoring method, which combines an online microbalance method with a scanning mobility particle sizer for fast production rate and size distribution measurement. Particle characterization is performed via scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction measurements. It is found that the carrier gas composition has the largest impact on the particle production rate and can increase it with orders of magnitude. This appears to be not only a result of the increased heat flux and melt temperature but also of the formation of tiny nitrogen (hydrogen) bubbles in the molten feedstock, which impacts feedstock evaporation significantly in bi-atomic gases. A production rate of sub 200 nm particles from 20 up to 2,500 mg/h has been realized for the different metals. In this production range, specific power consumptions as low as 0.08 kWh/g have been reached.
KeywordsMetal nanoparticles Transferred arc Online characterization Energy efficiency
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program under grant agreement No. 280765 (BUONAPART-E).
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