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Natick, MA, United States

Guan X.,Boston University | Pal U.B.,Boston University | Gopalan S.,Boston University | Powell A.C.,INFINIUM Inc.
Journal of the Electrochemical Society

An innovative inert anode current collector is successfully developed and used in solid oxide membrane (SOM) electrolysis experiments. In these experiments, an oxygen-ion-conducting yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) membrane separates a liquid silver anode from a molten fluoride flux containing magnesium oxide. During electrolysis at 1423 K, magnesium cations in the flux are reduced at a stainless steel cathode and removed in the vapor phase employing argon bubbling and condensed in a separate chamber. Meanwhile, oxygen anions are transported out of the flux through the YSZ membrane to the liquid silver anode where they are oxidized producing oxygen gas. The inert anode current collector is immersed in the liquid silver anode. The current collector employs a sintered strontium-doped lanthanum manganite (La0.8Sr0.2MnO 3-δ or LSM) bar, an Inconel alloy 601 rod, and a liquid silver contact in between. During the SOM electrolysis experiments, the current collector exhibited excellent electrical, thermal, mechanical, and chemical stabilities in oxygen as well as the liquid silver environment. © 2013 The Electrochemical Society. All rights reserved. Source

Magnesium is recovered from partially oxidized scrap alloy by combining refining and solid oxide membrane (SOM) electrolysis. In this combined process, a molten salt eutectic flux (45 wt.% MgF2-55 wt.% CaF2) containing 10 wt.% MgO and 2 wt.% YF3 was used as the medium for magnesium recovery. During refining, magnesium and its oxide are dissolved from the scrap into the molten flux. Forming gas is bubbled through the flux and the dissolved magnesium is removed via the gas phase and condensed in a separate condenser at a lower temperature. The molten flux has a finite solubility for magnesium and acts as a selective medium for magnesium dissolution, but not aluminum or iron, and therefore the magnesium recovered has high purity. After refining, SOM electrolysis is performed in the same reactor to enable electrolysis of the dissolved magnesium oxide in the molten flux producing magnesium at the cathode and oxygen at the SOM anode. During SOM electrolysis, it is necessary to decrease the concentration of the dissolved magnesium in the flux to improve the faradaic current efficiency and prevent degradation of the SOM. Thus, for both refining and SOM electrolysis, it is very important to measure and control the magnesium solubility in the molten flux. High magnesium solubility facilitates refining whereas lower solubility benefits the SOM electrolysis process. Computational fluid dynamics modeling was employed to simulate the flow behavior of the flux stirred by the forming gas. Based on the modeling results, an optimized design of the stirring tubes and its placement in the flux are determined for efficiently removing the dissolved magnesium and also increasing the efficiency of the SOM electrolysis process. © 2013 TMS. Source

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 732.04K | Year: 2010

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project aims to develop a new method for primary production of magnesium from its oxide ore using Solid Oxide Membrane Electrolysis. Unlike other primary metal processes, this approach emits no direct CO2, has no chlorine, and is fully continuous and automated. Published third party cost modeling has indicated that its costs are lower than all existing and proposed new processes. Building on an earlier feasibility demonstration using experiments and mathematical and cost modeling to show that the approach can produce oxygen as well as magnesium at high current efficiency and at costs close to the published cost model, this Phase II project will develop new anode tubes to further reduce energy costs, and build and test the first self-heating electrolysis cell. If successful, the self-heating cell will not require energy beyond that needed for electrolysis and will be the smallest possible pre-production modular unit capable of producing magnesium.

The broader/commercial impact of this project begins with substantial reduction of the cost and environmental impact of magnesium metal production. Magnesium is the lowest-density engineering metal and third most abundant metal in the earths crust, and its stiffness-to-weight, castability, and recyclability make it the best material for motor vehicle weight reduction. Automobile makers are seeking to increase the magnesium alloy content of vehicles from 10-15 lbs/vehicle to 350 lbs/vehicle by 2020, replacing 650 lbs/vehicle of steel and aluminum parts. This will increase fleet fuel economy by 1.5-2 miles per gallon, reducing annual petroleum import expenditures by about $20 billion. If successful, this project will address the biggest barrier to widespread magnesium use in vehicles, which is its price stability and availability. This could lead to a new magnesium economy taking full advantage of its light weight and ease of manufacturing in products from cellphones to laptops to trucks. With broader usage, the versatile process resulting from this development project can likely reduce the cost and environmental impact of reducing metal oxides, leading to a new industrial ecology of primary metals production.

INFINIUM Inc. | Date: 2016-06-20

Machinery for metal production. Metal purification services; metal reclamation services.

INFINIUM Inc. | Date: 2013-10-04

An apparatus for condensing metal vapors has at least one inlet conduit that is cooled to cause a portion of the metal vapor to condense to liquid. The apparatus also has a holding tank that is connected to the inlet conduit that collects condensed liquid metal. The apparatus also has at least one outlet conduit connected to the holding tank that is cooled to cause a portion of the remaining metal vapor to condense to solid metal. The apparatus also has at least one heater that heats the at least one outlet conduit to cause the solid metal to melt to liquid metal and subsequently flow in to the holding tank. The apparatus also has at least one sealing mechanism located at a distal end of the at least one outlet conduit for preventing metal vapor and carrier gas from exiting the outlet conduit during heating of the outlet conduit.

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