Boron Removal from Silicon Melts by H2O/H2 Gas Blowing: Mass Transfer in Gas and Melt
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMetallurgical and Materials Transactions E. 2014, 1 (3), 211-225. 10.1007/s40553-014-0021-x
Metallurgical routes for solar grade silicon production are being developed as alternatives to chemical processes for their potential to achieve cost reductions, increased production volume, and reduced environmental and safety concerns. An important challenge in the development of metallurgical routes relates to the higher impurity concentrations in the silicon product, particularly for boron and other elements that are not efficiently segregated in solidification techniques. The reactive gas refining process is studied for its potential to remove boron below the solar grade silicon target concentration in a single step by blowing steam and hydrogen gas jets onto the melt surface. Boron in a silicon melt is extracted to HBO gas in parallel to active oxidation of silicon. The literature is not unified regarding the rate determining step in this process. Relevant theories and equations for gas blowing in induction furnaces are combined and used to explain mass transfer in experiments. Mass transfer in the melt and gas is investigated by comparing resistance and induction heating of the melt, and varying gas flow rate, crucible diameter, diameter of the gas lance, and the position of the gas lance above the melt surface. The rate of boron removal is found to increase with increasing gas flow rate and crucible diameter. A relatively high fraction of the reactive gas is utilized in the process, and supply of steam in the bulk gas is the only identified rate determining step.