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Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR PRODUCING PURIFIED, ESPECIALLY HIGH-PURITY, MAGNESIUM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/189175
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The device relates to a (100) for producing purified, especially high-purity, magnesium (26), having - a reactor (8) for vacuum distillation that is extended along a longitudinal axis (L), wherein the reactor (8) forms a reactor inner chamber (28) having a heating region (29) for heating magnesium (20) made available in the heating region (29), - a crucible (10) that forms a crucible inner chamber (39) for receiving purified magnesium (26) vaporized by means of the device (100) and then condensed, wherein the reactor (8) has on the heating region (29) a radial projection (31), wherein a contact surface (32) of the projection (31), which contact surface extends essentially transverse to the longitudinal axis (L), is embodied such that, with an edge (40) of the crucible (10) adjacent to the crucible inner chamber (39), it forms an essentially sealing connection. The invention further relates to a method for producing purified, especially high-purity, magnesium (26) by means of the device.

Inventors:
WINDLER, Markus (Dickbuch 495, 8354 Hofstetten, 8354, CH)
EUTIN, Thomas (Große Maräne 50, Gallentin, 23996, DE)
Application Number:
EP2018/059153
Publication Date:
October 18, 2018
Filing Date:
April 10, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BIOTRONIK AG (Ackerstrasse 6, 8180 Bülach, 8180, CH)
International Classes:
C22B9/02; B01D3/10; C22B9/04; C22B26/22; F27B5/04
Domestic Patent References:
WO2013107644A12013-07-25
WO2003048398A12003-06-12
WO2013107644A12013-07-25
Foreign References:
US5698158A1997-12-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GALANDER, Marcus (BIOTRONIK SE & Co. KG, Woermannkehre 1, Berlin, 12359, DE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Patent claims

1. A device (100) for producing purified, especially high-purity, magnesium (26), having

- a reactor (8) for vacuum distillation that is extended along a longitudinal axis (L), wherein the reactor (8) forms a reactor inner chamber (28) having a heating region (29) for heating magnesium (20) provided in the heating region (29),

- a crucible (10) that forms a crucible inner chamber (39) for receiving purified magnesium (26) that has been vaporized and then condensed by means of the device (100) (26),

characterized in that the reactor (8) has on the heating region (29) a projection (31) that is radially circumferential relative to the longitudinal axis (L), wherein a contact surface (32) of the projection (31), which contact surface extends essentially transverse to the longitudinal axis (L), is embodied such that, with an edge (40) of the crucible (10) adjacent to the crucible inner chamber (39), it forms an essentially sealing connection.

2. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to claim 1, characterized in that the device has a conically embodied guide (21) for centering the crucible (10) relative to the longitudinal axis (L), wherein the guide (21) is embodied on an edge (40) of the crucible (10) and/or in a guide region (33) of the reactor (8) that surrounds at least part of an edge (40) of the crucible (10).

3. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the reactor inner chamber (28), in addition to the heating region (29) along the longitudinal axis (L), furthermore has a condensation region (30) for condensing the purified magnesium (26), und the device (100) is designed to move the crucible (10) along the longitudinal axis (L) between a first position and a second position, wherein when the crucible (10) is in the first position the inner chamber (39) of the crucible (10) is in fluidic contact with the reactor inner chamber (28), and wherein when the crucible (10) is in the second position the edge (40) of the crucible (10) is essentially sealingly positioned against the contact surface (32) of the projec- tion (31), so that the heating region (29) is in fluidic contact with the crucible inner chamber (39), wherein the condensation region (30) is essentially sealed against the heating region (29) and the crucible inner chamber (39).

4. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to claim 3, characterized in that the device (100) has a drive device (6), in particular a hoist motor, that is designed to move the crucible (10) along the longitudinal axis (L) such that the crucible (10) may be moved between the first position and the second position, wherein, when the crucible (10) is in the second position, the drive device (6) is designed to transmit a force onto the crucible (10) so that the crucible (10) is pressed against the projection (31).

5. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to claim 4, characterized in that arranged between the drive device (6) and the crucible (10) is a pressure rod (3) for transmitting the force, and in that the reactor inner chamber (29) is closed off by a bottom element (2), wherein the bottom element (2) has a through- opening (42) that is embodied for guiding the pressure rod (3) through the through- opening (42).

6. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to at least one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the reactor (8) has a vacuum connector (4) for connecting a vacuum pump (13) so that a vacuum may be produced in the reactor inner chamber (28) by means of the vacuum pump (13), und the device (100) has a first thermoelement (17) arranged on the crucible (10), wherein a measuring line (41) is connected to the first thermoelement (17), and the measuring line (41) is guided through the vacuum connector (4).

7. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to at least one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the device (100) has a cooling device (23) for removing heat.

8. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to at least one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the device (100) has a seal (12) that is arranged or may be arranged between the edge (40) of the crucible (10) and the contact surface (32) of the projection (31), wherein in particular the surface facing the edge (40) and/or the surface of the inner circumference of the seal (12) is made of graphite.

9. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to claim 8, characterized in that the contact surface (32) of the projection (31) and/or the edge (40) of the crucible (10) has a convex elevation (27) that is positioned against the seal (12) when the seal (12) is arranged between the edge (40) of the crucible (10) and the contact surface (32) of the projection (31).

10. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to at least one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the device (100) has a heating device (25) for heating at least the heating region (29), so that magnesium (20) made available in the heating region (29) may be vaporized, wherein the heating device (25) is embodied as a hood-type furnace arranged outside of the reactor (8).

11. The device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to at least one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the crucible (10) has an axial extension (11) that extends the crucible inner chamber (39) axially beyond the edge (40) of the crucible (10) used for the sealing.

12. A method for producing purified, especially high-purity, magnesium (26) by means of a device (100) for producing purified magnesium (26) according to at least one of claims 1 through 11 , wherein

- magnesium (20) is made available in the heating region (29) of the reactor inner chamber (28),

- the crucible (10) is arranged in the reactor inner chamber (28),

- a vacuum is produced at least in the heating region (29) of the reactor inner chamber (28), - the edge (40) of the crucible (10) is brought into sealing contact with the contact surface (32) of the projection (31),

- the heating region (29) of the reactor inner chamber (28) is heated,

so that magnesium (20) is vaporized in the heating region (29) and vaporized purified magnesium (26) is condensed in the crucible (10).

13. The method according to claim 12, wherein the magnesium (20) is added to the heating region (29) or the reactor inner chamber (28) via the condensation region (30) of the reactor inner chamber (28).

14. The method according to claim 12 or 13, wherein the magnesium (20) is positioned in at least one transportable container (19) in the heating region (29) of the reactor inner chamber (28).

15. The method according to any of claims 12 through 14, wherein a pressure in the vacuum line (4) is detected, and wherein if the pressure drops below a certain threshold pressure, in particular 35 mbar, the heating of the heating region (29) is terminated.

Description:
Device and method for producing purified, especially high-purity, magnesium

The invention relates to a device and a method for producing purified, especially high- purity, magnesium The present invention has to do in particular with a system and a process sequence for thermal purification of magnesium by means of vacuum distillation.

Known from the prior art is a method in which magnesium is liquefied and vaporized in a reactor in a heating region (hot zone) and condensed to a high-purity metal melt in a condensation region (cooler zone). After solidifying, this magnesium forms a massive block that may be used, e.g., as raw material for an alloy, for instance in medical technology products.

Moreover, known from document WO 2013/107644 Al is a specialized vacuum distillation device for performing said method. It comprises a reactor having an upper region for receiving the initial substance to be purified (e.g., technically pure magnesium) and a lower region to which a crucible, e.g. made of graphite, is added for receiving the condensed purified magnesium.

Such devices in the prior art suffer from the drawback, inter alia, that it is relatively complex to add and remove the crucible to and from the reactor and to clean and maintain the reactor and crucible.

It is thus the object of the present invention to provide a device and a method for producing purified magnesium, which device and method are improved relative to the described disadvantages of the prior art.

This object is attained using the device for producing purified magnesium according to claim 1 and the method for producing purified magnesium according to claim 12. Embodiments of the device are provided in subordinate claims 2 through 11 and embodiments of the method are provided in subordinate claims 13 through 15. These and other embodiments are described in the following. A first aspect of the invention relates to a device for producing purified, especially high- purity, magnesium, having:

- a reactor for vacuum distillation that is extended along a longitudinal axis, wherein the reactor forms a reactor inner chamber having a heating region for heating magnesium provided in the heating region;

- a crucible, that is, a pot-shaped container, wherein the crucible forms a crucible inner chamber for receiving purified magnesium that has been vaporized and then condensed by means of the device; wherein the reactor has on the heating region a projection that is radially circumferential relative to the longitudinal axis, wherein a contact surface of the projection, which contact surface extends essentially transverse to the longitudinal axis, is embodied such that, with an edge of the crucible adjacent to the crucible inner chamber, it forms an essentially sealing connection. The edge of the crucible shall be construed to mean an edge or surface axially delimiting the opening of the crucible. This means that the connection between the contact surface of the projection and the edge of the crucible is not completely vacuum- tight or vapor-tight, but instead a certain gas exchange occurs via the connection despite the edge of the crucible being positioned against the contact surface. One suitable crucible material that permits such an essentially sealing connection at the high temperatures of the distillation process is, e.g., graphite, which has an open porosity of 10% by volume (according to DIN 66133) and a mean pore entrance diameter of 1.8 μιη (according to DIN 66133). When using such a material, approximately 2% to 4%, for instance, of the weighed-in weight of the magnesium may escape, as vapor, from the crucible inner chamber via the essentially sealing connection during a distillation. In the context of the application, "essentially sealing" shall therefore be construed to mean that there is a mechanical, gap-free contact between the contact surface of the projection and the edge of the crucible, wherein a force greater than zero acts on the contact surface of the projection and crucible edge such that the two surfaces are pressed together. This force may also be very small; what is critical is that they are pressed together.

This has the advantage that, using the connection between the edge of the crucible and the contact surface, the vast majority of the gaseous magnesium is prevented from penetrating into the intermediate space between the crucible and the reactor wall of the condensation region. This reduces in particular the quantity of magnesium that deposits on the wall of the reactor and on the outer wall of the crucible and the crucible may consequently be removed from the reactor in a simpler manner after the method has concluded.

When the device is used properly, the reactor is in particular arranged such that the longitudinal axis runs vertically.

The crucible and the reactor are two separate components that are embodied such that they may be joined simply and reproducibly and together form an inner chamber that comprises the heating region and the condensation region (region in which condensed magnesium forms).

The crucible is preferably arranged below the projection in the heating region of the reactor. The crucible is preferably simply removable from or movable with respect to the heating region of the reactor. In this arrangement, the heating region is above the crucible inner chamber, in which the condensed magnesium collects.

This preferred embodiment has the advantage that the device is significantly simplified. The device essentially comprises two different chambers, the heating region and the condensation region, in which the condensed magnesium collects. The heating region is disposed inside the reactor and the condensation region is disposed inside the crucible. No complicated mechanical devices for deflecting or controlling the vaporaized gaseous magnesium, like deflecting units, are needed. The aforesaid reactor may be embodied, e.g., in a cylinder shape, wherein the aforesaid longitudinal axis, along which the reactor is extended, forms the cylinder axis.

It is understood that the reactor may be made of different suitable materials, for instance from a metal or an alloy, e.g. stainless steel.

As has already be described, the aforesaid projection on the heating region of the reactor is embodied radially circumferential. That is, the projection is embodied continuous in the circumferential direction of the reactor. Moreover, the projection may project e.g. into the reactor inner chamber and/or may be formed, e.g., by a tapering or fold in the reactor wall or using a separate component that is mechanically connected to the reactor inner wall.

To avoid further impurities in the purified magnesium obtained, it is recommended that the aforesaid crucible is made of a material that is chemically inert with respect to magnesium. The crucible is especially made of graphite, preferably high-purity graphite having an ash content of less than 100 ppm, more preferably less than 20 ppm. Such graphite materials may in particular be isostatically pressed and suitable for continuous casting methods. The graphite material may have, e.g., a mean grain size of 10 μιη (according to ISO 13320), a density of 1.83 g/cm 3 (according to DIN IEC 60413/204), an open porosity of 10% by volume (according to DIN 66133), a mean pore entry diameter of 1.8 μιη (according to DIN 66133), a permeability coefficient (at room temperature) of 0.06 cm 2 /s (according to DIN 51935), a Rockwell hardness HR 5/10 o of 90 (according to DIN IEC 60413/303), a fiexural strength of 60 mPa (according to DIN IEC 60413/501), a compression strength of 130 MPa (according DIN 51910), a thermal expansion (20°C to 200°C) of 4.2 x 10 "6 K "1 , thermal conductivity (at 20°C) of 105 Wm^K "1 (according to DIN 51908), and an ash content of 20 ppm (according to DIN 51903).

Moreover, the device may have a heating device for heating the reactor inner chamber, in particular the heating region. The heating device may make up a part of the reactor or may be embodied separately from the reactor, e.g. in the form of a hood-type furnace, at least part of which is arranged above the reactor when the reactor is operating.

The device for producing purified magnesium may also have a device for producing a vacuum, e.g. a negative pressure compared to atmospheric pressure, in the reactor inner chamber. The reactor inner chamber may be sealed in particular vacuum-tight against the reactor surroundings. The vacuum is needed to protect the magnesium from oxidation and to prevent the distillation process from being slowed by interfering gases.

According to one embodiment, the device has a conically embodied guide for centering the crucible relative to the longitudinal axis during a movement of the crucible along the longitudinal axis, wherein the guide is embodied on the edge of the crucible and/or in a guide region of the reactor that surrounds at least part of an edge of the crucible. The conical guide on the crucible may be embodied on an outer edge of the crucible or on an inner edge of the crucible.

This has the advantage that the crucible is guided into a central position when placed into the reactor inner chamber or when moved in the reactor inner chamber so that the crucible edge is positioned equally against the contact surface of the projection. This improves the essentially sealing connection between the crucible edge and the contact surface and thus prevents the magnesium vapor from entering the reaction inner chamber outside of the crucible in an uncontrolled manner. In addition, the guide permits the crucible and reactor to be placed together in a reproducible manner.

According to one embodiment, the guide region has a conical tapering, in particular in a region adjacent to the projection, wherein with respect to the longitudinal axis the tapering has a minimum cross-section facing away from the projection and a maximum cross- section facing the projection. The cross-section increases in size toward the heating region. The conical tapering may be formed, e.g., by a tapering of the reactor wall.

According to another embodiment, in addition to the heating region along the longitudinal axis, the reaction inner chamber has a condensation region for condensing the purified magnesium, and the device is designed to move the crucible along the longitudinal axis between a first position and a second position, wherein when the crucible is in the first position the inner chamber of the crucible is in fluidic contact with the reactor inner chamber, and wherein when the crucible is in the second position the edge of the crucible is essentially sealingly positioned against the contact surface of the projection, so that only the heating region is in fluidic contact with the crucible inner chamber, wherein the condensation region is essentially sealed against the heating region and the crucible inner chamber.

In particular the crucible is arranged in the first position and in the second position in the condensation region.

During the inventive method for producing purified magnesium, the heating region is brought to a first temperature and the condensation region is brought to a second temperature, wherein the first temperature is higher than the second temperature. The first temperature is in particular 850°C to 1100°C, preferably 850°C to 950°C, and the second temperature is in particular 650°C to 900°C, preferably 700°C to 850°C.

When the pressures in the reactor inner chamber are suitable, the result of this is that the magnesium initially melts in the heating region and then transitions from the liquid phase to the gaseous phase and that magnesium vaporized in this manner transitions from the gaseous phase to the liquid phase in the condensation region. Compared to a preferred transition of the vaporized magnesium at lower temperatures of the condensation region directly to the solid phase, this has the advantage that no magnesium crystals form, so that after the further processing of the magnesium there are no inclusions containing magnesium oxide that have a negative effect on the corrosion behavior of the material obtained.

The corresponding temperatures of the heating region and condensation region may be attained, e.g., using separately controlled heating and/or cooling devices that are arranged on the appropriate segments of the reactor. Alternatively, the appropriate temperatures may also be attained, e.g., using an arrangement of a hood-type furnace above the upper part of the reactor in which the heating region is disposed, wherein the lower edge of the hood- type furnace is arranged above the condensation region so that heat from the condensation region can flow outward and the lower second temperature is set in the condensation region.

The device in particular has at least one additional region that, when the longitudinal axis is positioned vertically, is arranged below the crucible, wherein during the inventive method the additional region has a third temperature that is lower than the second temperature of the condensation region, wherein the third temperature is in particular 250°C to 700°C.

The additional region comprises, e.g. a bottom element of the reactor. The additional region is in particular actively cooled in order to prevent damage to sealing rings, e.g. O- rings, of the bottom element.

According to another embodiment, the wall of the reactor is extended into the additional region.

If the longitudinal axis runs vertically, the heating region of the reactor inner chamber is arranged along the longitudinal axis above the condensation region of the reactor inner chamber.

In particular, the projection is arranged on the transition between the heating region and the condensation region.

Because the edge of the crucible in the second position is positioned essentially sealingly against the contact surface of the projection, the magnesium vapor is advantageously prevented or prohibited from entering the condensation chamber surrounding the crucible and the magnesium is prevented or prohibited from condensing outside of the crucible.

According to another embodiment, the device has a drive device, in particular a hoist motor, that is designed to move the crucible along the longitudinal axis such that the crucible may be moved between the first position and the second position, wherein, when the crucible is in the second position, the drive device is designed to transmit a force onto the crucible so that the crucible is pressed against the projection. This advantageously increases the tightness of the seal between the contact surface and the crucible edge so that less vapor escapes from the crucible inner chamber or from the heating chamber. In this embodiment the crucible is preferably moved against the projection from below.

According to another embodiment, the drive device is embodied for exerting a force onto the crucible so that a surface pressure of 0.1 N/mm 2 to 2.0 N/mm 2 acts between the edge of the crucible and the contact surface of the projection.

According to another embodiment, the drive device is embodied for exerting a force on the crucible so that a surface pressure of 0.1 N/mm 2 to 0.5 N/mm 2 acts on the seal.

According to one embodiment, the device has a ram for positioning and/or displacing the crucible.

According to another embodiment, the drive device, especially the hoist motor, is designed to move the crucible, in particular by means of the ram, via a pressure rod. The drive device is in particular designed, when the crucible is in the second position, to transmit the force onto the crucible via the pressure rod and the ram.

It is possible to bridge longer paths by means of the pressure rod when moving the crucible between the first and second positions.

According to another embodiment, the pressure rod has a metal or sintered material, ceramic, and/or graphite or is made of a metal or sintered material, ceramic, and/or graphite.

According to another embodiment, the surface of the pressure rod is polished or may be polished.

According to another embodiment, when the device is at operating temperature the material for the pressure rod is embodied such that it does not emit any substances into the surrounding area.

According to another embodiment, when the device is at operating temperature the material of the pressure rod is chemically inert to magnesium. That is, the material of the pressure rod does not react chemically with magnesium at operating temperature. According to another embodiment, the pressure rod is dimensionally stable up to a temperature of 800°C.

According to another embodiment, the pressure rod is embodied to bridge, along the longitudinal axis, a path of at least 2 mm, in particular at least 1 mm, and a maximum of 10 mm, in particular a maximum of 15 mm.

According to another embodiment, at least one spring device, in particular a compound spring, for transmitting the force from the drive device to the crucible is arranged between the drive device and the crucible in the force transmission direction.

Tolerance-sensitive operation of the drive device may be compensated by means of the spring device. This has the advantage in particular that the drive device slightly exceeding the necessary force does not result in any deformation and potential damage to the crucible. In addition, the spring device compensates heat-induced deformations in the pressure rod and/or ram so that dimensional stability is assured when there is a thermal load.

According to another embodiment, a pressure rod for transmitting the force is arranged between the drive device and the crucible, and the reaction inner chamber is closed by a bottom element, wherein the bottom element has a through-hole that is embodied for guiding the pressure rod gas-tight through the through-hole.

The bottom element and the reactor have in particular corresponding female and male threads so that the bottom element may be screwed to the reactor.

This has the advantage that the pressure rod may be centered by means of the guide through the bottom element so that the crucible can be better centered when the crucible edge is pressed against the contact surface of the projection. Thus in particular uniform pressure may be attained on the seal arranged between the edge of the crucible and the contact surface of the projection. Moreover, the drive device may be arranged outside of the reactor using the guide of the pressure rod through the through-hole.

According to another embodiment, the through-hole of the bottom element is embodied vacuum-tight against the outside when the pressure rod is guided through the through-hole, e.g. by means of a sealing ring that circumferentially surrounds the through-hole.

According to another embodiment, the connecting point of the pressure rod to the crucible or to a ram receiving or supporting the crucible is embodied as a joint, i.e., is designed such that a tilt movement of the crucible about the connecting point is possible in a small angle range, in particular up to 20°, in order to provide optimum pressure of the edge of the crucible against the contact surface. This may be attained, e.g., using a clearance between the pressure rod and a cylindrical receiving element on the ram.

Another embodiment provides that the spring device is arranged between the drive device and the pressure rod.

Moreover, the upper region of the bottom element, that is, the region of the bottom element facing the reactor, may be embodied conically so that the bottom element may be guided and positioned precisely.

According to another embodiment, the bottom element has at least one sealing ring that seals radially and/or axially. Such a sealing ring seals the bottom element in particular against the end face of the reactor wall when the bottom element is configured to overlap this end face, that is, when the reactor and bottom element have a cylindrical embodiment, when the diameter of the bottom element exceeds the inner diameter of the reactor.

Suitable sealing rings withstand e.g. temperatures of up to 250°C. Possible materials for this are, e.g., materials such as the fluoroelastomer FKM.

According to another embodiment, the reactor has a vacuum connector for connecting a vacuum pump, so that a vacuum may be produced in the reactor inner chamber by means of the vacuum pump, and the device has a first thermoelement arranged on the crucible, wherein a measuring line is connected to the first thermoelement, and the measuring line is guided through the vacuum connector.

The vacuum connector is embodied vacuum-tight against the outside when the measuring line is guided through the vacuum connector.

According to another embodiment, the device has a vacuum pump that is fluidically connected to the vacuum connector by means of a vacuum line.

The vacuum pump is in particular designed to produced a negative pressure of 10 ~3 or less in the reactor inner chamber.

The thermoelement has two leads made of different materials, wherein an electrical voltage dependant on the temperature is positioned between the leads, and wherein the measuring line is electrically connected to the leads such that the voltage applied between the leads can be measured by connecting a voltmeter to the measuring line. Thus the temperature at the position of the leads may be determined via the measured voltage.

Using the first thermoelement the temperature of the condensation region may advantageously be controlled during the distillation process. Guiding the measuring line through the vacuum connector has the advantage that no other vacuum-tight opening of the reactor is required.

It is particularly important to protect the thermoelement from magnesium vapor, e.g. using a sealing between the crucible edge and contact surface of the projection, because the functional period of the thermoelement may be drastically reduced by condensed magnesium.

According to another embodiment, the device has a pressure sensor for measuring the pressure in the vacuum line.

According to another embodiment, the device has a stop valve for closing connection between the vacuum line and the vacuum pump.

According to another embodiment, the device has an air relief valve for producing a fluidic connection between the vacuum line and the surroundings of the reactor.

By means of the pressure sensor it is in particular possible to draw conclusions during the method about the pressure in the reactor inner chamber. This is possible in that the connection between the crucible inner chamber and the rest of the reactor inner chamber is not embodied completely pressure-tight, but instead permits a certain exchange of gas. Therefore changes in pressure in the vacuum line, which changes may be measured by the pressure sensor, correspond to changes in the pressure in the heating region and crucible inner chamber.

In this way the end of the distillation process may be detected by means of the pressure sensor. To this end, e.g. pressure occurring in the vacuum line may be measured over the entire distillation period. The pressure in the reactor inner chamber, in particular in the chamber formed by heating region and crucible inner chamber, reaches its peak after approximately the first half of the period for the distillation process and drops slightly at the end. When all of the magnesium has been evaporated and condensed in the crucible, the pressure drops to significantly lower levels, e.g., to approx. 35 mbar. This is a signal that the distillation has concluded. When the significant drop in pressure is detected by means of the pressure sensor, in particular the heating device may be shut off automatically.

According to another embodiment, the vacuum connector is arranged in the bottom element.

According to another embodiment, the device has a cooling device, in particular a set of cooling fins, for removing heat so that a seal of the bottom element may be cooled.

The cooling device is arranged in particular in the additional region of the reactor that comprises the bottom element.

This has the advantage that sealing rings of the bottom element are not destroyed by the temperatures that occur during the method, so that the vacuum tightness of the reactor is assured. According to another embodiment, the device has a cooling device, in particular a set of cooling ribs, for removing heat. The cooling device may be embodied to cool a sealing of the bottom element in the additional region of the reactor inner chamber. Alternatively or in addition, the cooling device may be embodied to cool the crucible in order to cause the purified magnesium to condense. However, it is also provided that the crucible is not brought to the desired temperature by means of active cooling, but instead using passive heat loss. Moreover, the device may also have a first cooling device and a second cooling device, wherein the first cooling device cools a seal of the bottom element, and the second cooling device is used for cooling the crucible.

In particular the cooling device has a device for forced circulation, e.g. a fan.

According to another embodiment, the device has seal, in particular a flat seal, that is arranged or may be arranged between the edge of the crucible and the contact surface of the projection, wherein in particular the surface facing the edge and/or the surface of the inner circumference of the seal is made of graphite.

The sealing between the combined heating chamber/crucible inner chamber and the condensation chamber may be further improved by means of the seal. In addition, the seal prevents crucible and reactor from seizing or joining, and thus permits the crucible to be removed from the reactor again so that the purified magnesium may be removed.

The crucible inner chamber is not sealed completely vacuum-tight or vapor-tight against the rest of the reactor when using a seal between crucible edge and projection, either; in- stead, a certain gas exchange takes place via the essentially sealing connection, but this gas exchange is lower than without using a seal.

According to another embodiment, the entire seal is made of graphite. The seal may usefully be temperature-resistant up to 1100°C.

According to another embodiment, the seal has a surface roughness Ra of 0.05 to 0.8 μιη.

Since the seal may come into contact with the magnesium vapor during the distillation process, it is also useful when the seal is chemically inert to magnesium.

Further, the seal may optionally have a metal inlay.

One design provides that the seal has a thickness of up to 5 mm along the longitudinal axis and/or a radial sealing width of at least 3 mm.

According to another embodiment, the contact surface of the projection and/or of the edge of the crucible has a convex elevation, in particular a ridge, that is positioned against the seal when the seal is arranged between the edge of the crucible and the contact surface of the projection. Such a convex elevation may be formed, e.g., by a geometric material projection worked into the reactor or crucible, e.g., a semicircular projection.

The convex elevation is in particular extended along the longitudinal axis.

The convex elevation permits a higher surface pressure against the seal between the edge of the crucible and the contact surface of the projection. The seal is thus more loaded locally and the sealing effect is increased so that less vapor escapes from the crucible inner chamber and reactor inner chamber.

According to one embodiment, the inner chamber has a sufficiently large minimum sectional extension, relative to the longitudinal axis, so that the heating chamber of the reactor is accessible from below and the heating chamber may be loaded manually with magnesium before the distillation method is executed.

According to another embodiment, the device has a heating device for heating at least the heating region, so that magnesium made available in the heating region may be vaporized. The heating device is embodied in particular as a hood-type furnace arranged outside of the reactor.

The reactor has in particular at least one placement surface for storing the heating device. According to another embodiment, the crucible has an axial extension that extends the crucible inner chamber axially beyond the edge of the crucible used for the sealing. The crucible may be molded, e.g., in two parts, wherein the axial extension makes up one of the parts.

The aforesaid extension projects into the heating region when the position of the crucible is essentially sealing. Thus it is possible to prevent a situation in which the entire crucible must be replaced if the extension is contaminated. In these cases, only the extension must be replaced. In addition, due to the axial extension, where necessary a radial sealing between the heating region and the condensation region and between the crucible inner chamber and the condensation region at the projection is possible.

The extension is in particular connected to the crucible by means of a detachable connection.

Such an extension may be inserted into the crucible e.g. via a plug-in connector (for example, a cylindrical or conical plug-in connector).

A second aspect of the invention relates to a method for producing purified magnesium by means of a device for producing purified magnesium according to the first aspect of the invention, wherein magnesium is made available in the heating region of the reactor inner chamber, the crucible is arranged in the reactor inner chamber, in particular in the condensation region of the reactor inner chamber, a vacuum is produced at least in the heating region and in particular in the condensation region of the reactor inner chamber, the edge of the crucible is brought into essentially sealing contact with the contact surface of the projection, wherein in particular a force is generated on the crucible along the longitudinal axis so that the edge of the crucible is positioned essentially sealingly against the contact surface of the projection, and the heating region of the reactor inner chamber is heated so that magnesium is vaporized in the heating region and vaporized purified magnesium is condensed in the crucible.

According to one embodiment of the method, the heating region of the reactor inner chamber is heated to a first temperature, in particular 850°C to 950°C, and the condensation region of the reactor inner chamber is heated to a second temperature, in particular 700°C to 850°C, wherein the second temperature is lower than the first temperature. According to another embodiment of the method, the magnesium is added to the heating region of the reactor inner chamber via the condensation region of the reactor inner chamber.

According to another embodiment of the method, the magnesium is positioned in at least one transportable container in the heating region of the reactor inner chamber. The magnesium is in particular transported into the heating region in the at least one container.

This permits simple loading of the reactor from below and simple elimination of the residues from the distillation process, since these do not occur on the reactor walls, but rather in the containers. The containers may be removed from the reactor after the distillation and cleaned, e.g. mechanically and/or by machine. From time to time, e.g. a stream process may be used for cleaning.

The aforesaid container comprises in particular steel, stainless steel, or graphite.

According to another embodiment, the container has a sealed welded structure.

Moreover, the container may be securely positioned in the reactor manually or with a tool, so that the container has a secure stand in the reactor.

According to another embodiment, in a first sub-step the heating region and the condensation region are heated by means of a heating device, in particular by means of a hood-type furnace positioned above the heating region and the condensation region, wherein at the beginning of a second sub-step the heating device is positioned such that the heating region is further heated, wherein during the second sub-step the heating region the condensation region is connected to the surroundings of the reactor in a heat-conducting manner, so that heat can flow out of the condensation region into the surroundings. In the second sub-step an equilibrium occurs so that the temperature of the condensation region is lower than the temperature of the heating region.

This may be made possible, e.g., by arranging a hood-type furnace on a first spacer (e.g. a placement surface) during the first sub-step, and lifting the hood-type furnace to a second spacer (e.g. a placement surface) at the beginning of the second sub-step. Alternatively, the hood-type furnace may also be suspended and raised, e.g. on a crane, and positioned appropriately above the reactor. This results in the advantage that the different temperatures of the heating region and of the condensation region may be realized with only one heating device.

According to another embodiment of the method, a pressure is detected in the vacuum line, wherein, if the pressure drops below a threshold pressure, especially 35 mbar, the heating of the heating region is terminated. In particular the heating of the condensation region is also terminated if the pressure drops.

The pressure in the vacuum line corresponds in particular to the pressure in the space formed by the heating region and crucible inner region. During the vacuum distillation process, the pressure initially rises due to the vaporizing magnesium, reaches a peak after about half the period of the method, and then drops slightly. If all of the magnesium in the crucible inner chamber is condensed, the pressure drops sharply due to the lack of magnesium vapor pressure, especially to about 35 mbar. This drop in pressure may be used as a signal for the end of the process in order to then turn off the heating device.

In the following, the invention is described using figures and examples from which the additional embodiments and advantages may be derived.

Fig. 1 is a schematic sectional depiction of an inventive device for producing purified magnesium;

Fig. 2 is a schematic depiction of the vacuum line of the inventive device with additional components;

Fig. 3 is a schematic sectional depiction of a detail of the inventive device;

Fig. 4 is a schematic sectional depiction of an inventive device for producing purified magnesium, wherein the crucible is disposed in the first position;

Fig. 5 is another schematic sectional depiction of the device illustrated in

Fig. 4, wherein the crucible is in the second position;

Fig. 6 is another schematic sectional depiction of the device illustrated in

Figs. 4 and 5 after the end of the distillation process.

Figure 1 is a schematic sectional depiction of a device 100 for producing purified magnesium 26 having a reactor 8 that is extended along a longitudinal axis L. The reactor 8 is posi- tioned on a base 1 , wherein a base element 2 of the reactor 8 that closes the bottom of the reactor 8 is screwed to the base 1.

The reactor 8 forms a reactor inner chamber 28 that has a heating region 29 arranged above an first notional sectional line I, a condensation region 30 arranged below the first sectional line I between the first sectional line I and a second sectional line II, and an additional region 34 arranged below the second sectional line II between the second sectional line II and a third sectional line III. The sectional lines I, II, III each run along a transverse plane that runs perpendicular to the longitudinal axis L.

In the embodiment depicted in Figure 1 , the reactor 8 has a cylindrical shape, wherein the heating region 29 in cross-section has a greater diameter than the condensation region 30 and the additional region 34. Other geometries are possible, as well. In the heating region 29 the reactor 8 is closed by a cover 36 to which is welded in particular a lateral surface 35 of the reactor 8. On the lateral surface 35 and cover 36 are ribs 18 for preventing stress- induced deformations, caused by changes in pressure or temperature.

Radially, the heating region 29 has a bottom 37 that is embodied circumferentially in the shape of a ring. The inner circumference of the annular bottom 37 has an opening 46 that is connected to the condensation region 30. As illustrated in Figure 1, containers 19 for receiving purified magnesium 20 may be positioned on the bottom 37. Optionally, a circumferential edge may be arranged on the inner circumference of the bottom 37 to prevent the containers 19 from falling through the opening 46, e.g., when the reactor 8 is being loaded. A second thermoelement 24 for determining the temperature of the heating region 29 is positioned in the heating region 29 of the reactor inner chamber 28.

The condensation region 30 is separated from the heating region 29 by a radially arranged circumferential projection 31 (see also detail view in Fig. 3). Arranged in the condensation region 30 is a pot-like crucible 10 having a crucible inner chamber 39 for receiving the condensed purified magnesium 26 formed during the distillation process. The crucible 10 has an edge 40 that delimits the crucible inner chamber 39. Arranged on the end face of the crucible 10 is a radially circumferential seal 12, in particular a flat seal.

In the configuration illustrated in Fig. 1, the edge 40 is in contact with a contact surface 32 of the projection 31 via the seal 12 (see also Fig. 3), wherein the edge 40, the seal 12, and the contact surface 32 embody an essentially sealing connection between the heating re- gion 29 and the crucible inner chamber 39, so that the condensation region 30 disposed outside of the crucible 10 is essentially sealingly closed off from the heating region 29 and the crucible inner chamber 39. This can prevent magnesium that has vaporized during the distillation process from penetrating into the intermediate space between the crucible 10 and the wall of the condensation region 30 surrounding the crucible 10 and condensing there.

The crucible 10 furthermore has in the upper region an axial extension 11 (crucible extension) that extends the crucible 10 and projects further into the heating region 29. The axial extension 11 may be easily exchanged if contaminated or damaged by the vaporized magnesium disposed in the reactor inner chamber 28 and in addition provides an additional sealing apart from the essentially sealing connection between the edge 40 of the crucible, the seal 12, and the contact surface 32 of the projection 31.

The crucible 10 is borne on a ram 9 that in the additional region 34 of the reactor 8 is connected via a joint- like connecting point 38 to a pressure rod 3, wherein the pressure rod 3 is connected via a first connector 44 to a spring device 5, in particular a compound spring, and wherein the spring device 5 is connected via a second connector 45 to a drive device 6, in particular a hoist motor.

The drive device 6 is embodied to move the crucible 10 along the longitudinal axis L, and in the configuration illustrated in Fig. 1, in which the edge 40 of the crucible 10 is positioned against the projection 31, to transmit a force along the longitudinal axis L via the spring device 5, the pressure rod 3, and the ram 9 onto the crucible 10, so that the edge 40 of the crucible 10 is pressed against the seal 12 positioned against the contact surface 32, achieving an essentially sealing connection between the edge 40, the seal 12, and the contact surface 32. The joint-like connecting point 38 orients the crucible 10 axially to the reactor 8 for compensating any unintentional tilting of the crucible 10 on the joint-like connecting point 38.

The bottom element 2, which closes off the additional region 34 of the reactor 8 downward, has a centrally arranged through-hole 42 through which the pressure rod 3 is guided. In particular because the wall of the reactor 8 is extended downward to the bottom element 2 by the additional region 34, this leads to additional centering and stabilization of the guiding of the pressure rod 3 and thus to better sealing tightness of the connection between the edge 40 of the crucible, seal 12, and contact surface 32 of the projection 31.

The reactor 8 may in particular be opened by removing the bottom element 2 at its lower side. In this way the reactor 8 may be manually filled and cleaned. Thus containers 19, e.g. open metal containers, filled with magnesium 20 in particular in the heating region 29 may be placed. The optional circumferential edge of the bottom 37 leads to secure seating of the container 19 and prevents the container 19 from falling out.

In addition, the bottom element 2 has a vacuum connector 4 for connecting a vacuum pump 13. The outer region of the bottom element 2 has radially and/or axially arranged sealing rings 7 for sealing against the reactor 8. The through-hole 42 through which the pressure rod 3 is guided is also sealed off, e.g. by means of another sealing ring. Thus the reactor inner chamber 28 may be at least partially evacuated using the vacuum connector 4 arranged in the bottom element 2. A measuring line 41 of a first thermoelement 17 for measuring the crucible bottom temperature is also guided through the vacuum connector 4.

Fitted over the reactor is a heating device 25 having heating coils 43, in particular a hood- type furnace, such that it rests completely on a placement surface 22 of the reactor 8 at about the height of the ram.

A cooling device 23, e.g. a set of ribs, for thermal cooling of the reactor 8 is arranged outside of the additional region 34. The cooling may be accomplished, e.g. by convection or with forced air circulation (blowing with ventilator).

After loading, the reactor 8 is raised in particular above the basic structure of the system, lowered over the bottom element 2, and sealed by vacuum. The design is such that in this position there is a gap between seal 12 or edge 40 of the crucible 10 and the contact surface 32 of the projection 31 of the reactor 8 so that a vacuum may be created in the entire reactor inner chamber 28.

Figure 2 is a schematic detail view of a vacuum line 47 that is connected to the vacuum connector 4 of the device 100 depicted in Figure 1 for producing purified magnesium and is connected to a vacuum pump 13. A stop valve 14 for closing the vacuum line 47, an air relief valve 15 for fluidically connecting the vacuum line 47 to the surroundings, and a pressure sensor 16 for measuring the pressure in the vacuum line 47 are arranged between the vacuum connector 4 and the vacuum pump 13. It is possible to draw conclusions about the pressure in the reactor inner chamber 28 during the method by means of the pressure sensor 16.

In this way the end of the distillation process may be detected by means of the pressure sensor 16. To this end, e.g. the pressure in the vacuum line 47 may be measured over the entire distillation period. The pressure in the reactor inner chamber 28, in particular in the space created by heating region 29 and crucible inner chamber 39, reaches its peak after about half of the time for the distillation process has elapsed, and drops slightly at the end. If all of the magnesium is vaporized and then condensed in the crucible 10, the pressure drops sharply to lower values, e.g. to approx. 35 mbar. This is the signal that the distillation has concluded. When the sharp drop in pressure is detected by means of the pressure sensor 16, in particular the heating device 25 may be automatically shut off.

Figure 3 is a sectional schematic view of a part of the reactor wall of the inventive device 100 for producing purified magnesium. Depicted in the upper portion of Figure 3 is a part of the annular outer segment of the heating chamber 29 of the reactor 8, which transitions to the condensation chamber 30 of the reactor 8 at the projection 31, which is radial relative to the longitudinal axis L. The projection has a likewise radially oriented contact surface 32 having an axially extended convex elevation 27. The detail A is an enlarged detail view of the segment A, marked in Figure 3, of the contact surface 32 having the convex elevation 27. Also illustrated in Figure 3 is a guide region 33 of the reactor wall having a conically embodied guide 21.

If the crucible 10 is brought into the condensation chamber 30 of the reactor 8, the crucible 10 is centered and guided by the guide 22 and its edge 40, possibly via the seal 12, comes into contact with the contact surface 32 of the projection 31 (see also Figure 1). Due to the convex elevation 27, the surface pressure on the edge 40 of the crucible 10 or the flat seal 12 is increased, which improves the sealing effect.

In the following, an exemplary sequence of the inventive method for producing purified magnesium is described with reference to Figures 1 through 6.

First, in a heating phase, the reactor is evacuated by means of the vacuum pump 13. After the target pressure is attained (e.g. 1 x 10 "3 mbar), the heating device 25, e.g. the hood-type furnace, is turned on; the vacuum pump 13 continues to run. Due to the heating up process, the inner surface of the reactor 8 is cleaned by sorbate gases. The crucible 10 and the material of the seal 12 also outgas and are cleaned in this manner.

The heating up phase has concluded when the interim temperature in the heating region 29 of the reactor 8 has attained the target temperature (e.g. 350°C), the crucible bottom temperature has attained its target value (e.g. >250°C), and the target pressure has been attained (e.g. 1 x 10 "3 mbar). The reactor 8 is closed when all of the target variables have been attained. To this end, the drive device 6 presses the pressure rod 3 with the crucible 10 upward from the first position (see Figure 4) into the second position (see Figure 5). The drive device 6 is turned off when the current consumption of the drive device 6 has reached its target value. The spring device 5 disposed thereover is now stressed and exerts a constant upward pressure onto the crucible 10. While the crucible 10 moves upward, it is guided using a conical guide 21 (see Figure 3) and moved into a secure position. Due to the joint- like connecting point 38 it is assured that the seal 12 between crucible 10 and reactor 8 is loaded equally circumferentially. To further increase the specific surface pressure of the seal 12 locally, a convex elevation 27 is arranged on the contact surface 32.

Once the crucible 10 has been moved upward (and the reactor 8 has been closed, the vacuum line 47 to the vacuum pump 13 is closed via the stop valve 14 (see Figure 2) and then the vacuum pump 13 is turned off (for the entire duration of the distillation). The reactor 8 is heated again, this time to the distillation temperature (e.g. 900°C).

The temperature gradients are adjusted when the bottom temperature of the 10, measured by means of the first thermoelement 17, has reached the target temperature (e.g. 700°C). At this point in time, the system has already reached the target temperature in the heating region 29 (e.g. 900°C). The heating device 25, in particular the hood-type furnace, is raised and placed on three blocks pushed beneath it. Heat is lost because the heating device 25 is lifted and an equilibrium occurs. The height of the blocks was selected using experiments such that the crucible temperature may be maintained at, e.g., 700°C.

Once the vacuum pump 13 has been turned off and the reactor 8 has been heated further, the pressure in the reactor 8 climbs. This relationship may be observed on the pressure sensor 16 of the vacuum line 47. A magnesium vapor pressure occurs along the boiling point curve as a function of the temperature. In experiments, pressures of 70-90 mbar were measured in the vacuum line 47 at, e.g. 900°C. According to vapor pressure curves, this should mean a pressure of approx. 110 mbar in the interior. The measured pressure remains practically unchanged over the entire distillation period.

The magnesium distillation is practically a stationary condition at which magnesium 20 transitions to the vapor phase according to its boiling point curve and purified magnesium 26 condenses on the walls of the crucible 10 and is captured. Because of the condensation, the gaseous magnesium is taken out of equilibrium so that new magnesium can vaporize.

In a reactor having a capacity of 3 kg starting magnesium, around 200 ±50 grams of magnesium per hour deposits. Due to the condensation, condensation heat is released and over time the crucible bottom temperature rises slightly. As a rule maximum temperatures up to approx. 735°C were observed. After the maximum, the temperature drops again slightly and the end of the distillation is close at hand. At the end of distillation, when all of the magnesium has been evaporated and has condensed again, the temperature of the crucible 10 is again approx. 700°C.

The end of distillation (see Figure 6) may be detected, e.g., using the temperature increase in the heating region 29 of the reactor 8. Due to a lack of magnesium (and thus also evaporation energy that is no longer required), the temperature increases by approx. +6 to +10°C, measured on the second thermoelement 24 (see Figure 1).

Alternatively, the end of distillation may also be detected by measuring the drop in pressure. The pressure in the vacuum line 47 is measured over the entire distillation period. After the distillation process is about half complete, the pressure reaches its peak and drops slightly until the end of distillation. If all of the magnesium 20 evaporates and is condensed in the crucible 10, the pressure drops sharply to, e.g., approx. 35 mbar. This is a signal that the distillation has concluded and the system may thus be shut down automatically.

Once the distillation has concluded, high-purity magnesium is disposed in the crucible 10 as condensate 26. Reference list

45 Second connector 46 Opening

47 Vacuum line

100 Device for producing purified magnesium

I First sectional line

II Second sectional line

III Third sectional line

L Longitudinal axis