News Column

"Method and Apparatus for Making Uniform and Ultrasmall Nanoparticles" in Patent Application Approval Process

August 21, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- A patent application by the inventors BIBERGER, Maximilian A. (Scottsdale, AZ); LAYMAN, Frederick P. (Carefree, AZ), filed on January 27, 2014, was made available online on August 7, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews correspondents.

This patent application has not been assigned to a company or institution.

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Gas or vapor phase particle production is an important technique for producing engineered nanoparticles. In a particle-producing reactor, basic product species are formed within extremely short time spans following ejection of a hot, reactive medium from an energy delivery zone. Following ejection from the delivery zone, further formation mechanisms determine the ultimate characteristics of the final product.

"Although chemical reactions such as nucleation and surface growth within precursor materials occur largely during energy delivery, these formation mechanisms continue to be active in the first short moments following ejection. More prevalent in the post-ejection time period are bulk formation mechanisms such as coagulation and coalescence, which operate on already formed particles. Any proper conditioning of the hot, reactive medium following ejection from the energy delivery zone must account for these and other formation mechanisms to form a final product having desired characteristics. In some instances, maintaining a mixture at too high a temperature can lead to overly agglomerated particles in the final product.

"In addition to particle formation, proper conditioning must account for post-formation processing of the product. Although particles, once formed, cool rapidly through radiative heat loss, the residual gas in which they are entrained after formation cools much more slowly, and especially so when confined. Confinement is necessary to some degree in any controlled-environment processing system, and economic concerns usually dictate relatively small, confining controlled environments. Therefore, such systems must provide efficient mechanisms for cooling of the entire gas-particle product, yet also provide for efficient transport of the product to collection points within the system.

"Transport of particles within a gas stream relies on the entrainment of the particles, which is largely a function of particle properties, e.g., mass, temperature, density, and interparticle reactivity, as well as gas properties, e.g., density, velocity, temperature, density, viscosity, and composite properties, such as particle-gas reactivity. Cooling of a gas by definition affects gas temperature, but also may easily lead to changes in other properties listed above, exclusive of mass.

"What is needed in the art is a method of and an apparatus for balancing efficient cooling and transport of a gas-particle product, which requires careful optimization of process parameters."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In the embodiments of the present invention, features and methods are included to ensure extremely rapid quenching of reactive mixtures from vapor phase to solid phase, thereby producing uniform nanoparticles.

"In one aspect of the present invention, a particle production system is provided. The system comprises a plasma production chamber configured to produce a plasma stream. A reaction chamber is fluidly coupled to the plasma production chamber and has an ejection port. The reaction chamber is configured to receive the plasma stream from the plasma production chamber, vaporize a precursor material with the plasma stream to form a reactive mixture stream comprising the vaporized precursor material entrained within plasma stream, and supply the reactive mixture stream to the ejection port. The system also comprises a quench chamber having a wide end, a narrow end, a frusto-conical surface that narrows as it extends from the wide end to the narrow end away from the ejection port of the reaction chamber, a cooled mixture outlet formed at the narrow end, and a quench region formed within the quench chamber between the ejection port and the cooled mixture outlet. The quench region is fluidly coupled to the ejection port of the reaction chamber and is configured to receive the reactive mixture stream from the ejection port of the reaction chamber, to cool the reactive mixture stream to form a cooled mixture stream, and to supply the cooled mixture stream to the cooled mixture outlet. A conditioning fluid injection ring is disposed at the ejection port of the reaction chamber and configured to flow a conditioning fluid directly into the reactive mixture stream as the reactive mixture stream flows through the ejection port of the reaction chamber, thereby disturbing the flow of the reactive mixture stream, creating turbulence within the quench region and cooling the reactive mixture stream to form a cooled mixture stream comprising condensed nanoparticles.

"In another aspect of the present invention, a method of producing uniform particles is provided. The method comprises producing a plasma stream within a plasma production chamber, applying the plasma stream to a precursor material, and vaporizing the precursor material with the plasma stream within a reaction chamber, thereby forming a reactive mixture stream comprising the vaporized precursor material entrained within the plasma stream. The reaction chamber is fluidly coupled to the plasma production chamber and has an ejection port. The reactive mixture stream flows through the ejection port and into a quench region of a quench chamber. The quench chamber has a wide end, a narrow end, a frusto-conical surface that narrows as it extends from the wide end to the narrow end away from the ejection port of the reaction chamber, a cooled mixture outlet formed at the narrow end, and the quench region formed within the quench chamber between the ejection port and the cooled mixture outlet. A conditioning fluid flows through an injection ring disposed at the ejection port of the reaction chamber. The conditioning fluid flows directly into the reactive mixture stream as the reactive mixture stream flows through the ejection port of the reaction chamber, thereby disturbing the flow of the reactive mixture stream and creating turbulence within the quench region. The reactive mixture stream is quenched within the quench region to form a cooled mixture stream comprising condensed nanoparticles. The cooled mixture stream flows through the cooled mixture outlet of the quench chamber.

"In preferred embodiments, the quench chamber further comprises an annular supply portion disposed between the perimeter of the reaction chamber and the frusto-conical surface. The annular supply portion supplies a conditioning fluid into the quench region in an annular formation along a path different from the flow of the conditioning fluid through the conditioning fluid injection ring. In some embodiments, the annular supply portion comprises a plurality of supply ports disposed in an annular formation around the reaction chamber. In other embodiments, the annular supply portion comprises one continuous supply port disposed in an annular formation around the reaction chamber.

"In preferred embodiments, the conditioning fluid injection ring flows the conditioning fluid directly into the reactive mixture stream at an angle substantially perpendicular to the flow of the reactive mixture stream.

"In some embodiments the conditioning fluid is a gas. In some embodiments, the conditioning fluid is super-cooled gas or liquid gas, including, but not limited to, liquid nitrogen and liquid helium. The type and form of the conditioning fluid flowing through the injection ring can be the same or different from the conditioning fluid flowing through the annular supply portion.

"It is contemplated that the plasma stream can be produced in a variety of ways. However, in a preferred embodiment, the plasma production chamber produces the plasma stream by energizing a working gas.

"In some embodiments, the precursor material flows directly into the plasma production chamber via a precursor supply port on the plasma production chamber prior to its vaporization. Additionally or alternatively, the precursor material can flow directly into the reaction chamber via a precursor supply port on the reaction chamber prior to its vaporization.

"In preferred embodiments, the reaction chamber comprises an insulating material, thereby forming a enthalpy maintenance region within the reaction chamber. In this respect, the enthalpy of the reactive mixture stream can be maintained at a predetermined threshold level for a period of time within the enthalpy maintenance region of the reaction chamber. Preferably, the reaction chamber comprises a ceramic material.

"In preferred embodiments, a collection device is fluidly coupled to the cooled mixture outlet of the quench chamber via a conduit. The conduit preferably has substantially the same diameter as the cooled mixture outlet. The collection device receives the cooled mixture stream from the quench region and separates condensed particles from the cooled mixture stream. Ideally, these condensed particles are nanoparticles.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of one embodiment of a system for producing uniform nanoparticles using a quench chamber in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

"FIG. 2 is a graph illustrating average mixture temperature in relation to time and distance as material is introduced, vaporized and cooled within embodiments of the present invention.

"FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration of one embodiment of a system for producing uniform nanoparticles using a quench gas in a turbulent quench chamber in accordance with principles of the present invention.

"FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of one embodiment of a system for producing uniform nanoparticles using a liquid conditioning fluid in a turbulent quench chamber in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

"FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating one embodiment of a method of producing uniform nanoparticles in accordance with the principles of the present invention."

URL and more information on this patent application, see: BIBERGER, Maximilian A.; LAYMAN, Frederick P. Method and Apparatus for Making Uniform and Ultrasmall Nanoparticles. Filed January 27, 2014 and posted August 7, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=6221&p=125&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140731.PD.&OS=PD/20140731&RS=PD/20140731

Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Nanoparticle, Nanotechnology, Emerging Technologies.

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC


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Source: Politics & Government Week


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