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Superfine Corundum Powder


Technology Development for Superfine Powder Corundum Production by Electroerosion Dispersion of Scrap Aluminium

Tech Area / Field

  • CHE-IND/Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering/Chemistry

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov


  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA, CO, Golden

Project summary

Metals at a market are about twice as expensive as scraps. Yet, the price of ferrous and nonferrous powders is 30-80 – times higher as compared to source materials; and the finer powders, the more expensive. The lion’s share of the powder manufacturing cost applies to capital and field outlays but not to source materials as the conventional procedures of metal ultra-fine powdering are multi-step and include cascades of crushers, grinders, separators, transporters, etc. All the equipment is voluminous, utterly power consuming requires huge working areas. Everything here is adapted to large-capacity production so that milliard investments can get repaid only after a number of years.

Meanwhile, already the discoverers of spark cutting – N.I. and B.R. Lazarenko – have noted that “the chips” from this process are nothing else than a fine-dispersed powder.

It is assumed that the electroerosion effect will be used for the novel technology development in our project.

Application of the proposed powder procedures to corundum (aluminium dioxide, Al2O3) production from scrap aluminium is of especial commercial interest. In the world nowadays, aluminum scrap is not more than 70-80 cents for a kilogram, while a kilogram of powder corundum dispersed as 20 to 1 (the size that is attainable with our technology) is about hundred times as expensive and find an extremely good response in commerce. In Russia, chip aluminum is from 9.7 to 10.5 rubles for a kilogram while microgrinding powder, M20 to M3 graininess as per the “GOST 3647-80” (State Standard of the Russian Federation), is between 26.4 and 38.5 rubles for a kilogram.

Powder-like corundum is engaged in many productive industries beginning the jewellery where it is mixed with iron and titanium – in superfine state as well – to produce rubies and sapphires and ending the powder metallurgy and electronics.

It will take a few pages just to list the goods impossible without corundum. Some of the examples are: refractory products, transfer molds for casting metals, rods for transfer molds, chip packages, close-grained crystalline ceramics, microwave device bodies, etc.

However, the heaviest user of powder-like corundum is abrasive industry. Thousands of corundum tons are spent in polishing and grinding wheels, polishing and grinding pastes, abrasive liquids, and finishing papers.

Provided that relatively cheap submicron powder corundum enters the market, the resulted revolution will have happened mostly in the production of alumina ceramics. Indeed, the development of this industry was restricted until recently because of high cost of existing powders and their unsatisfactory quality resulted primarily from the high inequality between grain sizes in one portion.

The production of submicron powder corundum is excellently provided with source materials in the form of scrap (chips) aluminum.

The major project objectives are: on the one hand, to provide highly skilled scientists, engineers, and technicians engaged earlier in weapon R&D programs with alternative activity relevant to science-intensive conversion works; and on the other hand, to develop technology and equipment for dispersing scrap aluminum into superfine powder corundum using electroerosion methods.

The project development belongs to the applied research category.

The project is expected for developing a novel technology to reduce essentially the prime cost of powder corundum of 20-m to 1-m dispersity. The equipment we intend to develop for the technology should be compact and may be commercially attractive. Along with this, this equipment will be available to proceed with the research and development activity towards superfine powder technology adaptation to other metals as well as their oxides and carbides.


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