Flame spray Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne’s new manufacturing technology, shown here, can manufacture nanomaterials in high volumes. Benefits include faster production rates and reduced material waste compared to standard wet chemistry processes.

New Process Pumps Out High Volumes of Nanomaterials

Engineers at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new approach to flame spray pyrolysis (FSP), a manufacturing process for making large batches of nanomaterials. The new process provides several benefits over traditional methods. For example, it can produce commodity-scale volumes of a broad range of nanomaterials, including silica, metallic, oxide and alloy powders, or particulate films.

Compared to the wet chemistry typically used to synthesize these materials, FSP delivers cost savings due to faster production rates and reduced material waste. In FSP, liquid precursors (the raw materials), are dissolved in a fuel or solvent and dispersed through a nozzle as a spray. The spray gets ignited and a pilot flame ensures the fire continues to burn. Nanoparticles are created in the flame in several different ways simultaneously. These production methods include aerosol formation, droplet evaporation, combustion, coagulation, sintering, and even surface growth.

Researchers can use the highly modified and monitored FSP process to manufacture up to 500 grams of single-chemistry nanomaterials or up to 50 grams each of four different chemistries. The equipment used in the process includes a clean-in-place fixture that cleans the combustion tube used in the process every day. This lets researchers switch chemistries every day without cross-contamination.

Going forward, researchers will add a planar laser-induced fluorescence laser diagnostic package that emits a tunable laser light sheet to better understand the flame chemistries involved.

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