This proposal seeks funding for the Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling (CR3) located at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Funding Requests for Fundamental Research are authorized by an NSF approved solicitation, NSF 11-570. The solicitation invites I/UCRCs to submit proposals for support of industry-defined fundamental research.
The proposed study "Electron Beam Atomic Spectroscopy" (EBAS) is a method to determine elemental compositions by measuring the atomic emission spectra produced when an electron beam impinges on a target material. Although the mechanisms underlying EBAS are not well understood, EBAS has the potential to greatly reduce the energy use and improve the productivity of industrial processes that can use it for process control while manufacturing a part. In these processes, high value and critical metals are produced by melting recycled scrap. A key property of EBAS is its potential to have much lower limits of detection (LOD) than conventional measurements, especially of those used at industrial sites. With EBAS, the results are provided nearly instantly, which allows the operator to reduce the melt time as alloying can also be done nearly instantly. This saved time means less energy is used to melt and alloy and more time is available on the furnace to produce additional product.
The proposed work has the potential to enable the optimization of the recovery and recycling of high temperature metals in ways that have not been done previously. The potential impact is the development of a new measurement technique for vacuum processing of metals. The center will encourage high school students and teachers, and minority students to be involved. The PI will integrate the K-12 outreach into the existing program at WPI. Interested high school students will be invited to the metal Processing Institute and participate in sub-projects associated with the proposed research under the supervision of the PI and graduate students.