Ferric chloride hexahydrate consists of trans-cationic complexes and chloride anions [Fe (H2O)4 Cl2]+, with the remaining two H2O molecules embedded within the monoclinic crystal structure. Ferric chloride hexahydrate contains not less than 98.0 percent and not more than 102.0 per cent of FeCl3•6(H2O). It is yellow or brown in color and is available in the form of solid powder or lumps. Ferric chloride hexahydrate is readily soluble in water and highly soluble in acetone and ethanol. Its molecular formula is FeCl3•6(H2O). Ferric chloride hexahydrate is also known as iron/ferric (III) chloride hexahydrate, ferric chloride hexa, ferric chloride Gr, iron trichloride hexahydrate, or ferric chloride 6H2O. It is readily soluble in water and is hygroscopic is nature. The salt is stable under normal conditions, but it cannot withstand strong oxidizing agents. Ferric chloride hexahydrate has the ability to form mixture with potassium and sodium. This mixture can be explosive. It is potentially toxic, highly corrosive, and hazardous in case of skin contact, eye contact, or ingestion.
Ferric chloride hexahydrate is well known for its usage in sewage treatment. It helps in purification of water and thus plays a vital role in drinking water production. Printed circuit boards can be prepared with the help of ferric chloride hexahydrate. The salt is employed in brown patinas (copper, brass, or bronze). It is an oxidizing agent, a clinical reagent, and one of the highly preferred etching agents for engraving and photography. Ferric chloride hexahydrate can be used as a mordant in dyeing and printing of textiles. It helps in preparation of a variety of organically templated iron phosphates, due to its rich crystal chemistry and the ability to absorb large molecules in its micropores.
The global ferric chloride hexahydrate market is expected to expand at a moderate CAGR from 2016 to 2024. A major driver for the market is the risen number of strict legislations regarding wastewater treatment in industrial and domestic sectors. Use of ferric chloride hexahydrate for treatment of wastewater is primarily dependent on location to source, as transportation costs can be a major portion of the delivered cost. This can act as a factor restraining the growth of the global ferric chloride hexahydrate market.
Western Europe is one of the major consumers of ferric chloride hexahydrate. This is attributable to the increasing consumption of the salt in countries such as the U.K., France, and Belgium as well as Mediterranean countries, as they are linked to EU norms for phosphorus removal. The ferric chloride hexahydrate market in Asia Pacific is projected to expand in the next six years. This is due to the rising demand for ferric chloride hexahydrate from China and Japan. China is the leading consumer of ferric chloride hexahydrate for wastewater treatment. Production of Chinese printed circuit boards is also rising, as major producers of printed circuit boards are shifting toward China.
Some of the major companies operating in the global ferric chloride hexahydrate market are Brenntag UK & Ireland, Chemical Company of Malaysia Bhd., Kemira, PVS Chemicals Inc., BPS Products Pvt. Ltd., Cochin Minerals & Rutile Limited, Huizhou 3R Environmental Chemical Co., Ltd., and E&C Chemicals Inc.