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SPREAD - craft proposal LABOR Srl - Strictly confidential
SPREAD: DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW SOL-GEL INTENSIFIED PROCESS BY MEANS OF THE SPINNING DISC REACTOR TECHNOLOGY FOR NANOPARTICLES PRODUCTION
1. Rationale of the research action
There is a great and increasing number of industries relied on powdered materials to produce their products (i.e. ceramics, cosmetics, metals, paints, coatings, electronics and cutting tools). Processing, performance and cost issues are pushing down the particle sizes of powders used in a variety of industries, being particles of submicron sizes critical to advancement in numerous applications. Nanopowders technology, recognised by leading industrialised countries to be of potential key economic significance in the 21st century, is advancing rapidly and creating new possibilities for manufacturers in order to satisfy the growing needs of the market.
The fabrication and optimisation of tailored nanoparticles is the starting point previous to the processing of high performance nanostructured materials and constitute a critical step highly dependent on the end- applications. In fact, besides the size of building blocks of the nanostructured material, the microstructure of the materials has an extremely important influence on the properties.
The production of nanosized powders have emerged as an important processing step in the manufacture of advanced high performance ceramic components and ceramic-coated products, where fine powders with tailored composition are required in order to meet the quality requirements of the end-products (ex: finer microstructure, higher strength and toughness, higher wear resistance, etc.).
Although the increasing demand for nano-particles in the recent years, the techniques available suffer from high-energy consumption and inconsistent product quality (i.e. particle size distribution). The current processes are also time consuming and very expensive.
One of the particles production techniques able to produce large quantities of high-grade powders at relatively low costs is chemical precipitation using control of nucleation and growth processes. This method is typically applied through two kinds of processes that present significant disadvantages in terms of product quality and operating costs:
ê Semi-continuous precipitation techniques, typically required for the production of monosized particles for pigments and ceramic powders. These techniques are commercially undesirable due to the high operating costs and the low quality derived from the batch-to-batch product variation.
ê Continuous precipitation techniques, normally leading to broad particle size distributions.
Precipitation processes follow several phases in which primary and secondary particles are formed through distinct mechanisms. Primary processes of precipitation (mixing of reactants, chemical reaction, nucleation and growth of solid particles) generate the primary particles. Parallel to nucleation and growth processes, secondary phenomena (aggregation, ageing and ripening) take place in the reactor, generating the secondary particles. In order to obtain the desired product quality, homogeneous nucleation has to be the dominant mechanism of the process, which can be achieved by ensuring:
- High levels of supersaturation
- Intense mixing at very low scale(micromixing)
Currently applied techniques (stirred tank reactors, continuous flow mixers) present important limitations that lead to inconsistent product quality (i.e. broad particle size distribution) as well as high operating costs.
New apparatuses as spinning disc reactor and sol-gel processes are of great interest for its ability to produce well sized nanoparticles with a good reproducibility. These techniques are commonly applied for hybrid nanocomposites (organic-inorganic) of metal oxides avoiding powders formation.
This proposal aims to develop and demonstrate a novel processing technique based on the spinning disc reactor technology (SDR) for the production of nano-particles to improve the efficiency and potentiality of sol-gel processes. This process, as shown by the results of preliminary studies, offers important advantages with respect to current techniques and can respond to the increased demand of particles with controlled size,
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