Many innovative organometallic and hybrid fluids are being utilized into industrial applications in the recent past and Ferro fluids are a major class of hybrid fluids which are making a huge impact in various industrial applications. Ferro fluid (FF) is generally a magnetic colloid, dispersed in a colloidal suspension of single domain magnetic particles having the dimensions in the range of about 10nm to 12 nm, usually dispersed in a liquid carrier. Typically, a common Ferro fluid may contain 5% magnetic solid, 10% surfactant, and 85% carrier solution by volume. There are two major methods to prepare Ferro fluids, by chemical precipitation and by size reduction.
In size reduction process, micron size magnetic powder is mixed with a dispersant and a solvent in a mill for grinding, which continues for the period of several weeks. Ferro fluid from chemical precipitation process starts with a mixture of FeCl3, FeCl2, and water, which is then co-precipitated with ammonium hydroxide. The precipitated system is then subjected to magnetic separation, peptization, filtration, and dilution. Furthermore, ferro fluids can be classified according to the type of coatings on the magnetic particles. It is necessary to place a coating on the magnetic particles in order to avoid agglomeration in ferro fluids particles. It is classified as surfacted (SFF) Ferro fluid if the coating is present on a surfactant molecule, and it is classified as ionic (IFF) ferro fluid if the coating is an electric shell.
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Varieties of applications of magnetic fluid are based on their peculiar properties such as their high affinity and migration tendency towards strong magnetic field, absorption of electromagnetic energy at convenient frequencies, and heat dissipation. Ferro fluids find their applications in various industries such as medicine, drug targeting, cell separation, hyperthermia, and magnetic resonance imaging. Moreover, ferro fluids have numerous technological applications, as they have both magnetic and liquid properties. Ferro fluids can be employed in making of optical modulators, tunable optical fiber filter, magneto-optical wavelength filter, nonlinear optical materials, optical grating, optical switches, and hyperthermia. Presently, ferro fluids are utilized in making sealing agents. Ferro fluids could form leak free liquid seals, which can offer long-term stability in pump applications, CVD equipments, etching system, epitaxial growth system, robots, x-ray generator, gas induction mechanism, vacuum chunk mechanism, arch discharger, vacuum furnace, and ion implanter.
The basic sealing components consist of a permanent magnet, ferro fluid, two magnetic pole pieces, and a magnetically permeable shaft. The pole pieces combined with the magnetic structure and the rotating shaft helps in concentrating the magnetic flux in between the radial gap under each pole. Ferro fluid is applied to the radial gap, which produces a hermetic seal between them. Ferro fluids are also utilized globally for biological applications. Biological molecules coated with magnetic nanoparticles can be controlled externally with the help of electromagnetic frequencies. Magnetic field is intrinsically penetrable into human tissue, which can be utilized into the immobilization or transport of magnetically tagged biological entities and magnetic nanoparticles. Currently, ferro fluids are being utilized to make high performance loudspeakers, as they can dampen the movement of the cone passively as well as remove heat from the voice coil. Additionally, ferro fluids are employed as a material for nondestructive testing of other components such as stainless steels, magnetic tapes, and turbine blades
The recent rise in demand for high quality electronics, sealants, non-destructive medical equipment, and expansion in research & development sector is driving the expansion of the ferro fluid market globally. Consumer electronic is a rapidly expanding segment of the market. The global consumer base for sealants, electronics, and medical sectors is likely to extend further in the next few years due to increased demand in major economies such as India, China, the U.S., Germany, and France. This, in turn, is anticipated to boost the need for ferro fluids. Major restraints for the ferro fluids market are the high capital required for equipment manufacturing and limited technological applications.
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The U.S is a market leader in the production and application of ferro fluids. Asia Pacific is, a prominent and rapidly expanding market for ferro fluids, with China being the dominant country and India witnessing a high growth rate, attributed to the rapid economic expansion and industrialization in material research. Major global players in the production of ferro fluids include Ferrotech, Magnaflux, American Elements, Lord Corp., and Ancera Inc. Technological breakthrough in the medical and healthcare industries and bioscience are propelling the expansion of the market for ferro fluids. Increasing end-use applications of ferro fluids globally is estimated to further drive the expansion of the market.