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Continuous Mass Production of Fullerenes and Fullerenic Nanoparticles by 3-Phase AC Plasma Processing

F. Fabry, T.M. Gruenberger, J. Gonzalez-Aguilar, H. Okuno, E. Grivei, N. Probst, L. Fulcheri, G. Flamant and J.-C. Charlier

mass production, thermal plasma, fullerene, fullerene soot

A patented plasma technology has been developed over the last ten years for the continuous mass production of fullerenes and fullerene soot by the core partners of a consortium (TIMCAL BELGIUM S.A., EMP-ARMINES and CNRS). The process combines the high temperature arc method with continuous gas-phase synthesis by injecting solid carbon precursors into thermal arc plasma. The plasma technology is totally clean and environmental friendly since zero greenhouse gas emission is produced on site. The success of this approach can be found in the use of a 3-phase AC plasma technology particularly suited for large capacity processing (typically employed in metallurgy). The possibility to produce large quantities of fullerenes at commercially viable cost will bring their applications to emerge. In addition fullerene soot which is a by-product of the plasma process is a carbon black-like material that has shown interesting reinforcing properties in rubber and could consequently be of interest for tyre and rubber industry. In this paper, the plasma process for continuous mass production of fullerenes and fullerene soot and results on typical process conditions prevailing are detailed. Price and production short term perspectives for both products are presented.

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