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Press Release | Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne’s new Combustion Synthesis Research Facility heats up high-throughput manufacturing of nanomaterials

Argonne National Laboratory’s Combustion Synthesis Research Facility leverages the power of science and engineering to deliver significant process improvement insights for manufacturers of powder- and particulate-based nanomaterials.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory announces the availability of a new manufacturing technology that simplifies the manufacture of nanomaterials in high volumes. Known as Flame Spray Pyrolysis (FSP), the technology offers significant benefits over traditional methods used to manufacture the particle-based substances that are critical to producing a wide range of industrial materials.

According to Argonne Principal Investigator Joe Libera, Flame spray synthesis is a versatile process that allows for commodity-scale production of a very broad range of nanomaterials that includes silica, metallic, oxide and alloy powders or particulate films.”

Compared to the wet chemistry processes typically used for synthesizing these materials today, Argonne’s FSP process can deliver cost savings due to faster production rates and reduced material waste. Argonne’s Combustion Synthesis Facility incorporates a suite of advanced diagnostics that supports the optimization of complex material targets such as aluminum-doped lithium lanthanum zirconium oxide. These enhanced material characterization capabilities enable greater manufacturing precision. Libera says that, Although FSP technology is already employed by industry as the cheapest and best way to make carbon black, fumed silica and pigmentary titanium powders, it is not yet widely used for producing more complex materials due to the difficulty in perfecting their characteristics.”

Flame spray synthesis is a versatile process that allows for commodity-scale production of a very broad range of nanomaterials.” - Joe Libera, Argonne principal investigator

The Combustion Synthesis Research Facility is located at Argonne’s Materials Engineering Research Facility (MERF) outside Chicago, Illinois. Researchers at the MERF can apply Argonne’s highly instrumented FSP process to produce samples at pre-pilot-scale one-day rates up to 500 grams of a single chemistry or up to 50 grams each of up to four different chemistries or process conditions. The facility has a novel clean-in-place fixture that permits daily cleaning of the combustion tube, which permits switching chemistries daily without cross-contamination.

Going forward, Libera will continue to expand the Argonne Combustion Synthesis Research Facility, adding a Planer Laser Induced Fluorescence (PLIF) laser diagnostic system, that uses a tunable laser light sheet to develop a better understanding of the flame chemistries involved. Building on Argonne’s strengths in discovery science, researchers will build multi-physics simulations of the FSP process that the PLIF diagnostic tool can then validate. Libera also plans to add the capability to test the deposition of flame-made materials directly onto application substrates.

Argonne’s in-situ diagnostics, characterization, computer modeling, scale-up technology and expertise in combustion engineering, aerosol and materials sciences support a wide range of research needs. Taken together, these capabilities enable the MERF to pursue process research and engineering advances that might not be possible in other environments, which is the driving force behind the laboratory’s Manufacturing Science and Engineering initiative.

Development of Argonne’s Flame Spray Pyrolysis process and Combustion Synthesis Research Facility is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicle Technologies Office, and Argonne’s Laboratory-Directed Research and Development funding program through Argonne’s Manufacturing Science and Engineering Program.

For more information, contact Joe Libera at (630) 252-7124 or jlibera@​anl.​gov. Sign up here to learn more about Argonne’s technologies advancing manufacturing, including energy efficient processes and advanced materials design.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’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 the Office of Science website.