Silicon Powder Properties Produced in a Planetary Ball Mill as a Function of Grinding Time, Grinding Bead Size and Rotational Speed

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Mechanical milling is a promising route for production of submicron and nano sized silicon powders, but it is challenging to predict and control the product properties. In this study a metallurgical grade silicon quality was milled in a planetary ball mill and the properties of the powder were investigated as a function of grinding time, grinding bead size (20 mm, 2 mm, 0.25 mm) and rotational speed based on the concepts presented in the stress model. The finest powder was characterized by a d50 of 0.62 μm. This powder was produced with the 2 mm grinding beads and 4 h of grinding (i.e. the highest specific energy input to the mill with this bead size). The largest BET specific surface area, the highest concentration of iron contamination and the smallest amount of crystalline silicon phase were characterized in the powder produced using the 0.25 mm grinding beads and 4 h of grinding (i.e. the highest stress number). Aggregates consisting of silicon and iron were formed. An acid wash to reduce the concentration of iron contaminant revealed that silicon did form an amorphous phase as well as the specific surface area increased. With a constant specific energy input to the mill, a reduction in rotational speed (i.e. reduced stress energy) produced similar powder properties with the exception of the particle size distribution.

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This work has been financially supported by Elkem ASA and the Norwegian Research Council through the Industrial Ph.D. Scheme (project number: 264144). Authors are very grateful to people in Elkem ASA for their feedback and enlightening discussions, and especially to Astrid Storesund (Elkem ASA, Technology) for conducting the ICP-OES analysis.

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Correspondence to Benedicte Eikeland Nilssen.

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Nilssen, B.E., Kleiv, R.A. Silicon Powder Properties Produced in a Planetary Ball Mill as a Function of Grinding Time, Grinding Bead Size and Rotational Speed. Silicon (2020).

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  • Silicon powder
  • Submicron particles
  • High energy ball milling
  • Planetary ball mill