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New process to create ultrafine powders for materials production named one of 1993'S top new technologies

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September 09, 1993 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. — A new process that produces ultrafine, nanoscale and uniform particles for materials manufacturing has been selected as one of the top 100 technological developments of 1993 by Research and Development magazine. The Rapid Thermal Decomposition of Precursors in Solution process was developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest Laboratory. Battelle operates PNL for DOE.

magazine conducts the annual R&D 100 Award competition to honor the most promising new products, processes, materials or software developed throughout the world. Awards are based on a product's technical significance, uniqueness and usefulness. This is the 31st year of the competition.

The new process uses high pressure and high temperature to transform a solution of low-cost metal salts into ultrafine, uniformly sized particles. The metal salts are dissolved in water, which is heated under pressure and forced through a nozzle to form the highly crystalline, ultrafine particles.

Industry can use these ultrafine, nanoscale particles to manufacture improved products. For example, powders resulting from this new process can be converted into various ceramic objects such as ball bearings, gears and knife blades that are stronger and more durable than similar products on the market today. In addition, the powders can be used as pigments for paints and inks, as high-surface-area catalysts or combined with other materials to yield advanced composites.

The process can be operated continuously, and bench-scale prototypes can produce from one to five pounds of powder per day. This is a striking improvement over current batch methods that typically produce less than one gram per day. This makes the new technology especially useful for large-scale industrial powder production.

The process was developed by a research team which included Mark Buehler, Dean Matson, John Linehan, Max Phelps, Gary Neuenschwander, John Fulton and Roger Bean.

PNNL LogoPacific Northwest National Laboratory is the nation's premier laboratory for scientific discovery in chemistry, earth sciences, and data analytics and for solutions to the nation's toughest challenges in energy resiliency and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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