July  2001

Advanced Powder Synthesis Laboratory

Although sol-gel and soft chemistry techniques allows nanoparticles synthesis with tailored morphologies and functionalities, gas-phase combustion is another way to obtain ultrafine metals, ceramics and composite powders. 

This site is part of the Laboratory for combustion and Energy research (LACER) directed by Professor Richard L. Axelbaum, at the Washington University in St Louis. 

LACER is dedicated to combustion research associated with production of both energy and advanced materials. The projects includes: 

  • Combustion synthesis performed in the Advanced powder synthesis laboratory
  • Soot formation
  • Flam synthesis of HCl by combustion of DCE
  • Microgravity combustion synthesis of nanoscale particles
  • Flame extinction

"The Advanced Powder Synthesis Laboratory is dedicated to the research and development of gas-phase combustion synthesis as a route to synthesize ultrafine metal, ceramic, and composite powders. The laboratory is also involved in the consolidation of powder materials to produce advanced bulk materials.

Gas-phase combustion synthesis (GCS) has become the industry standard for high production powders like silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide and carbon black, but as yet has not been able to produce unagglomerated, non-oxide materials. Despite past limitations, it has been recently demonstrated and patented a GCS process to produce ultrafine, unagglomerated, non-oxide ceramic, metal, and composite powders. 

The process couples a unique combustion system, consisting of a reactive metal (e.g. sodium) and one or more halide compounds, in a traditional flame configuration with a novel encapsulation technique. As a fully integrated process, it lends itself to on-line control of powder characteristics, such as size, morphology and composition. 

The site present an educational overview of the process including the chemistry and thermodynamics involved as well reactor description and encapsulation and consolidation steps.