After a decade of intense research on nanoparticle development, a plethora of new materials has been synthesized at the laboratory scale, as is apparent for instance from a recent review on flame aerosol technology (Teoh et al., 2010). Today’s challenge is the translation of these achievements into an industrial production environment which poses questions on continuous nanoparticle manufacture, safe handling and packaging.
Here, a fully automated pilot plant for nanoparticle manufacture by flame spray pyrolysis (FSP, Bickmore et al., 1996; Mädler et al., 2002) is presented that allows continuous production of nanopowders at rates up to 500g/h. Nanoparticles are collected with bag-house filters and are discharged to a pneumatic conveying system that transports the dry powder to a packaging site.
Bulk nanopowder flow characteristics and requirements for the design and operation of the pneumatic conveying system are studied by the example of two differently-sized zirconia nanopowders. A filling head with a continuous polymer inliner is investigated for contamination-free nanopowder packaging. Release of nanoparticles into the workspace during production, conveying and packaging is monitored with a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) at different locations in the pilot plant in order to develop suitable standard operation procedures and to guide equipment design. Finally, results on cleaning of the nanopowder handling equipment for product change or maintenance are reported along with nanoparticle release levels.
Bickmore, C.R., Waldner, K.F., Treadwell, D.R. and Laine, R.M. (1996), J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 79, 1419-1423.
Mädler, L., Kammler, H.K., Mueller, R. and Pratsinis, S.E. (2002), J. Aerosol Sci. 33, 369-389.
Teoh, W.Y., Amal, R. and Mädler, L. (2010), Nanoscale 2, 1324-1347.