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Comment Processing & Handling

Ultra-rapid production of battery materials using plasma technology

By Mary Page Bailey |

A new ultra-rapid plasma-based process could significantly expand the availability of premium materials for battery applications. Developed by 6K, Inc. (North Andover, Mass.; www.6kinc.com), UniMelt is a single-pass, continuous process that employs a proprietary microwave torch technology to create a ball of plasma at 6,000K, which can be stretched into a large production zone. The base materials for battery cathodes are dissolved in an aqueous solution, which is sprayed into the plasma reactor using a high-speed droplet sprayer, where the water from the solution is immediately evaporated and captured as steam. “Then, over the next 2–3 s, the battery materials travel through the production zone and the particle is synthesized. Depending on the battery chemistry, the particle is either ready for use, or it may need a 1–3-h heat treatment to complete the final product,” explains Sam Trinch, 6K’s president. This is a vast improvement over current processes, such as coprecipitation, which can take as long as 3 d. “We can process materials from 10 nm up to hundreds of micrometers, which is a very large span of particle sizes for a single process, while also demonstrating many different chemistries are possible,” notes Trinch.…
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