Student Author: Michelle Marx (Class of 2008)
Faculty Author: Dr. Ali Bakhshai
Previous studies have shown that the ball milling technique, which mechanically imparts energy to the reactants, often causes a displacement reaction between various metals and metal oxides. Usually ball milling causes a self-propagating heat synthesis reaction (SHS) to occur with exothermic reactions. This study was undertaken to see whether the ball milling technique could provide a method to extract pure silicon from silicon oxide. Since silicon oxide and aluminum are readily available materials, the ball milling process would be an easy and cost efficient way to produce silicon. The parameters tested in this study included varying the amount of aluminum, total powder mass, number of balls (kinetic energy), and milling atmosphere. Parameters also tested were additions of acetone and alcohol. X-ray diffraction was used to determine what elements and compounds were present before and after ignition. This study discovered that when silicon oxide and aluminum were milled SHS does not occur despite the reaction being highly exothermic.