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Parameters Affecting the Rate and Product of Liquid Silicon Oxidation


The oxidation of liquid silicon resulting in silica fume has been the subject of previous investigation due to its importance to occupational health in the silicon alloy production industry. Small-scale experiments and industrial measurements have been carried out in order to understand the mechanisms and kinetics of liquid silicon oxidation. Key questions as to the main factors and conditions determining the rate of fume formation in the industry, still remain. In this work the rate of active oxidation of liquid silicon was studied by experimental investigations in a 75 kW induction furnace, where oxidizing gas was introduced via a lance above the liquid silicon surface. The silica formed as a result of the reaction was collected and the silica fuming rate determined as a function of gas composition and gas flow velocity. The system was also modeled using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and kinetic modeling. The flux of silica increases with increased gas velocity above the liquid surface, and was found to correlate well with mass transfer rates calculated from impinging jet theory. The size of the silica particles was also found to be dependent on the gas flow rate; smaller average particle size was obtained at higher flow rates. It was found that the most important factor for the silicon oxidation reaction rate is the velocity of the gas in vicinity of the silicon surface (i.e. the boundary layer thickness). The velocity is more important than the actual amount of oxygen delivered to the system per unit time, indicating that oxygen “efficiency” is not a strong function of oxygen concentration in the gas. Thus, the gas velocity is the rate determining parameter in determining the mass transport of oxygen to the silicon surface. Results from computational fluid dynamics simulations show that the gas flow was laminar in all experiments and that oxidation takes place within 0.5 mm from the silicon surface. The results from the experiments and the CFD model were used to suggest a molecular mechanism of the active oxidation of liquid silicon.


Academic article





  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • SINTEF Industry / Metal Production and Processing
  • SINTEF Industry / Process Technology



Published in

Oxidation of Metals








395 - 413

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