Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Home Uncategorized Rice hull used for making inexpensive silicon compounds

Rice hull used for making inexpensive silicon compounds

New York: High-purity silicon compounds are an expensive and carbon-intensive process, but that could soon change, thanks to a new technology from the University of Michigan that can produce the same silica compounds from rice refuse.

Silica and other silicon compounds are essential for many products that we use every day. They are used to polish the silicon wafers that go into electronics, to strengthen tyres, to make paints and paper white, as an abrasive in toothpaste, and yes, in countless tiny packets of silica gel beads.

But current method of silicon compound production requires heating mined silicon metal and anthracite coal to 3,500 degrees Celsius in an electric arc furnace, making it an expensive and high carbon-intensive process.

Developed by Richard Laine, Professor of materials science and engineering, the new technique is believed to be the first simple, inexpensive chemical method for producing high-purity silica compounds from agricultural waste.

“I think eventually, we will be producing high-purity silica and other silicon compounds right next to the rice fields,” Laine said.

“It will be possible to process rice and produce high-grade silica in a single location with little or no carbon footprint. It is really very exciting,” Laine noted.

Much of the world’s agricultural waste contains silica. While the new process could be used to produce silica and silicon-containing chemicals from many types of agricultural waste, Laine focused on using the hulls left over from processing rice.

The hull is the outermost layer of the rice grain. It is removed when rice is processed.

But while the world is awash in silica-rich rice hull ash, getting that silica out has proven to be a major challenge. The difficulty stems mostly from the incredibly strong chemical bond between silicon and oxygen, one of the strongest that exists in nature.

Laine found two easy and inexpensive ways to break that bond: ethylene glycol or antifreeze and ethanol or grain alcohol.

The antifreeze combined with a small amount of sodium hydroxide weakens the chemical bonds between the silica and the rice hull ash at the beginning of the process, dissolving the silica into a liquid solution.

The solution is then heated to 390 degrees Celsius, forming a polymer of silica and antifreeze.

Grain alcohol is then added at the end of the process. It is chemically similar to antifreeze, so it easily swaps in to replace the antifreeze, which is then recycled.

The liquid silica can then be distilled out of this second solution and used to make a high-purity precipitated silica product for industrial use.

Laine has formed a Michigan company, Mayasil, to commercialize the technology.

The findings were published in the journal Agewandte Chemie. (IANS)

STAY CONNECTED

18,992FansLike
362FollowersFollow
1,781FollowersFollow

Most Popular

Here’s How you can Manage Flu at Home

The monsoon has begun, and while it brings relief from summer heat it also brings perils of humidity. With the rain showers comes the...

Top Selection Criteria for a Voltage Stabilizer

In our power grids, voltage fluctuation is a common phenomenon. But it also is a concerning one as it can harm sensitive electrical appliances...

Dalai Lama Turns 85, Tibetans Dedicate Year 2020 to him

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also known as Tibetan government-in-exile, on Monday announced to dedicate this year...

Here’s What to Expect When You Catch a Flight from the Airport

Hustling sounds, frequent announcements, savvy travelers glued to their gadgets, emotional families waiting to receive or see-off their loved ones-- it's perhaps the opening...

A Must have Adventure Bucket List

The worldwide lockdown due to coronavirus has brought a screeching halt to every industry, including the travel and hospitality. With restrictions on international travel...

Picture Perfect Living Room Decor Ideas

A cosy and comfortable sofa set, a coffee table for tete-a-tete and a perfect TV unit to keep the entertainment mode on, all these...

‘Covid’ Now the most Searched Word of 2020

The term 'Covid' - the commonly used shorthand for Covid-19 or Coronavirus disease caused by the SARS CoV-2 virus - is the top word...

Beauty of Indian Culture: William Dalrymple on his Experience Living in India

India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations with the oldest culture in the World. The Indian culture varies like its...

Recent Comments