Other Ferrofluid Applications
There are a whole host of other applications for Ferrofluid. Many of these are still at the R&D stage but some have already achieved a degree of commercial success. Ferrotec carries out research into new applications for ferrofluids both on its own and through strategic partnerships with other companies. Other applications areas in which ferrofluids have been used include material recycling, power and distribution transformers, quiet solenoids, sensors and switches.
Material Separation and Recycling
Ferrofluid has a unique property in that its apparent density can be increased by applying a magnetic field to the ferrofluid. This physical characteristic creates the ability to separate objects of different density through floatation or sinking. Ferrofluids have been used for years in material separation processes in the mining industries, although with limited economic advantage. Ferrotec has been working with material recycling and mining industry leaders to commercialize this application. To enhance the economic viability of these processes, Ferrotec has developed a patent-pending process for the reclamation and reconstitution of ferrofluids. This innovation will create economic advantage for the separation industries to enhance the existing separation performance characteristics of the materials.
Ferrotec has been working in partnership with a major manufacturer of electrical power equipment, to develop ferrofluid for liquid-filled transformer applications. Ferrofluids have been shown to provide both thermal and dielectric benefits to transformers. Ferrofluid can be utilized to improve cooling by enhancing fluid circulation within transformer windings. Ferrofluid can also be applied to increase transformer capacity to withstand lightning impulses, while also minimizing the effect of moisture on typical insulating fluids. The benefits of ferrofluid may be utilized to design smaller, more efficient new transformers, or to extend the life or loading capability of existing units.
The introduction of a ferrofluid into a solenoid dramatically reduces the noise level of certain equipment, such as home care kidney dialysis machines. This in turn reduces the need for noise suppression insulation, allowing a more cost effective and simpler design that is more portable. In addition to the obvious benefits of quieter operation and portability, the ferrofluid-based solenoids make the equipment more reliable.
Sensors & Switches
The unique properties of magnetic fluid make it a feasible technology for some sensor and switch applications. The use of ferrofluid may enhance the motion sensitivity in some sensing applications. Products being evaluated for ferrofluid application include inclinometers, accelerometers and flow meters, tilt, vibration, pressure and level sensors, and various switches.