A Solvent-Free, Nanopowder Production Method

EPA Contract Number: EPD11055
Title: A Solvent-Free, Nanopowder Production Method
Investigators: Rolfe, Sara L
Small Business: Eltron Research & Development Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2011 through August 31, 2011
Project Amount: $80,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Innovation in Manufacturing


The large-scale production of nanoparticles of the highest purity will be accomplished by the Eltron Solvent-free Powder Synthesis (ESPS) system described in this proposal. Since conventional particle size reduction methods are unable to reduce particles to the nano-scale and tend to reduce the purity of the powders, the ESPS system has been designed for direct yield of high purity and nano-sized distributions without agglomeration. Since scale-up is a primary requirement of any desired nanoparticle production method, Eltron’s material scientists and process engineers have designed the ESPS system from the ground up for continuous operation with anticipated increased flow, and therefore, increased particle production in Phase II. Eltron’s solvent-free system reduces raw material costs while simultaneously eliminating many human health hazards and environmental waste products associated with conventional nanoparticle production.

Anticipated Results

The focus of this Phase l research will be the direct synthesis of ZnO; however, the manufacture of many metal, sulfide, and oxide nanopowders will also be facilitated using the same apparatus and technique, with slight modification. In Phase I, Eltron will show the technical feasibility and preliminary commercialization potential of the ESPS technology. All Phase I research will be guided by the economics of scale-up which will be determined in a techno-economic analysis. The ESPS system offers many features that will result in lower manufacturing costs compared to other nanoparticle production methods. The ESPS system will produce nanoparticle zinc oxide in high purity with a tailorable particle size distribution, while demonstrating the ability to scale into a large continuous process.

Potential Commercial Applications

Nanoparticle production is an important and growing industry. In 2006, zinc oxide, gold, titanium dioxide, and calcium phosphate nanoparticles accounted for 90% of the nanoparticle market. Consumer product nanoparticle applications include sunscreens, dental applications, and cosmetics. Slurries of nanoparticles are used for chemical mechanical polishing/planarization (CMP) which is used in computers and electronics production. TiO2 and ZnO nanopowders and dispersions are increasingly being used in sunblocks, including products such as Clinique and Johnson & Johnson’s sensitive skin and baby products, Cellex-C and Obagi’s skin-care line, and Oil of Olay and Revlon’s daily-wear skin lotions and foundation with UV protection. ZnO also has many catalyst applications, including water-gas-shift and sulfur sorption. Inorganic nanoparticles are used for drug delivery, including magnetic particles, semiconductor quantum dots, calcium phosphate, and colloidal gold.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report