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Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) 2020

Glass production from desert sand : Proof of concept and characterization

Minkels, J.A.

Titre : Glass production from desert sand : Proof of concept and characterization

Auteur : Minkels, J.A.

Université de soutenance : Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Grade : Master 2020

For in-­situ resource utilisation start-up Maana Electric, an investigation was undertaken to determine whether a cover glass for solar panels can be produced using only desert sand as the raw material. During this investigation, the composition of desert sand, melt formation, processing temperatures, and mechanical and optical properties were considered. The composition of 18 desert sands was analysed by means of X­ray fluorescence and estimations of mineralogical composition were made, after which an attempt was made to melt the unmodified sand samples in a microwave furnace built for the purpose. Melt formation was further observed by melting binary combinations of store bought minerals that were found in the desert sands. The composition data and modelling of temperature-viscosity curves were employed to explore lowering the practical melting of the sand point by modification of the composition through benificiation. `Synthetic benificiated desert sand’ was produced and melted based on the results. Glass samples produced were characterized using X­ray fluorescence, visual inspection, optical spectrometry, and fracture mirror analysis. It was found that about half of the desert sand samples assessed contain over 90 wt% silica, making it less feasible for use as raw material for glass due to high melting temperatures and/or large waste streams from benificiation, while sands containing larger fractions of carbonates and/or feldspars will form a melt at less than 1650 degrees Celsius if the SiO2 content is less than 55 wt%. Transmission of 85 % of 550 nm wavelength light was shown to be possible for desert sand glass of 3 mm thickness if Fe2O3 content is lower than 0.1 wt%, while for the same transmission in the complete effective spectrum of silicon based solar cells the iron content needs to be lowered further. Known absorbing species such as Cr2O3, NiO and CuO were detected in desert sand in trace amounts, but were not present in the synthetic mixtures, the influence of these contaminants on transmission requires further research. Mechanical analysis was inconclusive due to a limited number and low quality of the samples produced, but a review of the literature implies that a Young’s modulus of >70 GPa and flexural strength of >45 MPa are attainable in a glass produced from desert sand components.


Page publiée le 19 avril 2021