The proposed technology involves the oxidation of either metal or metal oxide powders with alkali compounds in an atmospheric plasma discharge to synthesize one-dimensional (1-D) metal oxide nanostructures. The technology, termed Solvo-PlasmaTM, takes less than 2 minutes to produce 1-D metal oxide nanostructures. The conventional approaches require several hours of synthesis and additional pre-processing and post-processing steps. The figure illustrates the SolvoPlasmaTM concept for synthesizing metal oxide nanowires.
The state-of-the-art technology for producing nanowires or nanomaterials for these compounds (titania and other related metal oxides and alkali compounds) involves the use of either hydrothermal or solvo-thermal methods. The hydrothermal method is a batch process employing high-pressure conditions and steps such as filtration, washing, and drying that ultimately results in a small quantity of end product (grams/day). Other production methods, such as those employing catalyst-assisted techniques, can currently only synthesize nanomaterials on a milligram scale. Due to the similarity in reaction reagents, we termed our proposed process as SolvoPlasmaTM. Under plasma exposure the alkali compounds mix the constituents thoroughly, just like a solvent, making it similar to the solvo-thermal method but using plasma oxidation instead. The ultra-fast reaction times and the use of atmospheric conditions make the SolvoPlasmaTM process highly feasible for commercialization.
AdEM has developed this technology for both manufacturing of nanowire powders and also in producing thick nanowire films on metallic foils to be used directly in the manufacturing of batteries. This technology is protected by US Patent (13/183,191).