Colloidal silica, also called silica sol or sol, are particles of silica suspended in a liquid phase. The fine silica particles suspended are typically spherical shaped, amorphous and of a non-porous nature. The liquid suspension is heavier than water and is electrostatically stabilized to let the particles to stay suspended in the liquid solution. The suspended silica particles are extremely fine, with sizes ranging from thirty nanometers to around a hundred nanometers. The manufacturing process of colloidal silica involves many steps. An alkali silicate solution is neutralized which would result in the formation of silica nuclei. The colloidal silica nuclei are very small in size, having a diameter of few nanometers. So as to change the particle size of the colloidal silica and the solution composition and characteristics, the pH levels along with the sodium content of the solution could be altered to arrive at the desired composition.
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Colloidal silica finds varied applications across a diverse range of industries. Colloidal silica is used for draining liquid from paper rapidly, in the pulp & paper manufacturing industry. This helps in maximum residue of starch in the paper composition, thereby imparting higher strength to the paper. The colloidal silica solution finds multiple industry applications such as that of a moisture absorbent in a diverse range of manufacturing sites. In specific cases, colloidal silica is also used to increase friction of a particular surface, to prevent dangerous slipping on floors after they have been waxed.
Considering these important aspects of applications of colloidal silica, the study of the colloidal silica market becomes an important read.
On the basis of product type, the colloidal silica market is segmented as follows:
Alkaline colloidal silica
Acidic colloidal silica
Neutral colloidal silica
On the basis of end use industry, the colloidal silica market is segmented as follows:
Pulp & paper
Metals & Metallurgy
Electronics & semiconductors
Paints & Coatings
Building & Construction
Key Trends, Drivers
Colloidal silica is more viscous than water, which helps to retain more separation of refractory particles which provides superior thermal shock resistance in monolithic refractory applications. The deployment of colloidal silica bonded castables and pumpables has shown noteworthy enhancement particularly in re-heating furnace roof areas, both during the installation process and drying. The drying process has been observed to take about 60% lesser time vis-à-vis conventional ramming mixes & plastics.
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The product development of gel bond refractories using colloidal silica as a bonding agent has proven to be a major breakthrough in refractory technology. The colloidal silica displays an advantage in the form of easy availability at a commercial level for refractory applications. Hence, the new benefits of the refractory technology could be easily availed, and taken advantage of. As a commercially attractive alternative to conventional binders, colloidal silica could be used as a bonding agent in virtually all types of monolithic refractories. For instance, it could be used in castables, ramming and gunning mixes. The application of colloidal silica in castables has largely contributed to the handiness of refractory applications via pumping – which is a distinct advantage over that of conventional binders. Furthermore, these refractories do not need adherence to specific temperature conditions required for drying. This not eliminates flaws in the drying process, but also mitigates installation time. Besides, colloidal silica bonded castables & pumpables display superior performance and reduce furnace operation costs, along with eradicating workplace hazards endangering on-site workers. These factors are expected to drive the global colloidal silica market growth. However, some disadvantages of its application such as the water base rendering a relatively slow drying speed in inaccessible pockets or cores has been an area of concern, and may prove to be restraint to the market growth rate in the near future.
Examples of the market participants in the colloidal silica market are as follows:
Akzo Nobel N.V.
The Dow Chemical Company
R. Grace & Co.-Conn.
Allied High Tech Products, Inc.
Buehler (Illinois Tool Works Inc)
Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council
CWK Chemiewerk Bad Köstritz GmbH
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