AC/off-grid photovoltaic powered open-source ball mill

Ball milling is used for comminution by rotating a drum to grind materials using balls with specific diameters. Ball milling advantages include the potential for high capacity, predicted fineness in a specific amount of time, reliability, safety, and simplicity, but has disadvantages of high weight, energy consumption and costs, which limit accessibility. To overcome these limitations this study applies the free and open source hardware approach coupled to distributed digital manufacturing to fabricate a ball mill with a simple, customizable design that can be used in a wide range of scientific applications and circumstances including those without access to reliable grid electricity. The highly-customizable design reduces the cost to <US$130 for an AC powered version and <US$315 for a switchable power that enables off-grid operation with a solar module and battery. Using a solar photovoltaic energy source not only improves the power reliability, but also makes it easier to move the ball mill for use in field environments. The open source ball mill is capable of reducing silicon particle sizes from the millimeter scale down to the nanometer scale.

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