Elkem receives 9,2 million NOK for quartz research

The Research Council of Norway has awarded Elkem 9,2 million NOK to the project “High-Temp Quartz”. The project will investigate different types of quartz to better understand how the characteristics of quartz affect furnace operations.

With the new knowledge this project will provide, Elkem will be able to improve both raw material and energy use of our silicon and ferrosilicon furnaces, and to be able to better search for more effective quartz.

“High-Temp Quartz” is a joint project with Sintef and NTNU. The project will be led by Aasgeir Valderhaug in Elkem Technology. Researchers from Elkem Technology will participate in the project, together with colleagues in the Quartz team at Elkem Silicon Materials. The full scale testing will be done at Elkem Silicon Materials plants, and the testing of  one type of quartz that will be investigated in this project have already started.

-The availability of known quartz resources with desired chemical purity and good “furnacability” is very limited. Moreover, when we test out new quartz types in a furnace, we sometimes see large unexpected deviations in furnace productivity. Therefore, there is a huge need for a more fundamental understanding of what differ a “good” quartz type from a “bad” one when they are used as furnace raw materials.

- Are there some material properties in the quartz that are critical and how can we measure them? Can we adapt the way we operate a furnaces to compensate changes in quartz properties, and making a “bad” quartz a “good” one? Questions like these will be raised in the High-Temp Quartz project and investigated through fundamental research, pilot testing and full-scale testing at our furnaces, says Aasgeir Valderhaug.

Karin Fjeldstad Jusnes, will take her PhD at NTNU as a part of the project and do research on material properties of quartz and how they change during heating up to high temperatures.

-This is an exciting project that spans from basic research via modeling and pilot testing in small furnaces at NTNU/Sintef, to full scale testing over several weeks in Elkem’s furnaces. The goal is to find a new way to test different types of quartz in a laboratory, which can tell us what is the best and smartest way of mixing quartz with other raw materials. In addition, the research goal is to find how furnace operations can be optimised when adding different types of quartz, says Karin Fjeldstad Jusnes.

-This might seem like an easy task, but we are talking about very high temperatures, more than 2000 degrees Celsius. There are lots of things we do not know about the reactions that happen between quartz and the other materials in the furnace, and we must also include all the products that are created along the way, concludes Fjeldstad Jusnes.

The project has a total budget of 23, 2 million NOK and is financed by Elkem Silicon Materials and the Research Council of Norway. The project will run for 3,5 years and close at the end of 2019.


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