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Study of the effect of operating parameters on alumina nanoparticle synthesis in a novel induction plasma reactor

McGill University
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  • Engineering - Chemical
  • Design
  • Mathematics


We have investigated the effect of operating parameters on the production of alumina nanoparticles from an aluminum precursor injected into an argon-oxygen inductively coupled plasma (ICP). We used a novel ICP reactor designed to minimize recirculation and favour the uniformity of the produced powder. To reduce recirculation in the reactor, an inside diameter close to the torch diameter and a porous wall quenching system, delivering up to 1000 slpm, were used. The typical product is delta-alumina with a number median diameter of around 100 nm and a geometric standard deviation of about 1.60. The particles are almost spherical with no evidence of strong agglomeration. We also compared modeled gas temperature and oxygen mass fraction mapping with measurements. Except at lower power (20 kW), the operating parameters (precursor size, mass feed rate, plasma power, quench gas flow rate, sheath gas composition and reactor pressure) had no effect on the product morphology or crystallographic structure inside the studied ranges. The particle size was shown to increase with increasing mass feed rate, oxygen concentration in the sheath gas and reactor pressure as well as with decreasing plasma power as predicted by the analysis of the gas temperature model. The precursor size and the quench gas flow rate had no effect on the product particle size distribution (PSD) inside the studied ranges. We also measured the in-situ PSD of particles suspended in the gas in real time and without post treatment by using a scanning mobility particle sizer. These results were compared to BET and Mastersizer measurements on powder collected on the walls of the reactor and show that the PSD of the collected particles is representative of the PSD of the particles in the gas stream. The PSD mapping in the reactor volume showed that our sampling system is too intrusive to follow the evolution of the particle growth in the reactor. The implantation of an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) as a

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