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Effects[ edit ] Sonication has numerous effects, both chemical and physical. The chemical effects of ultrasound are concerned with understanding the effect of sonic waves on chemical systems, this is called sonochemistry. Studies have shown that no direct coupling of the acoustic field with chemical species on a molecular level can account for sonochemistry  or sonoluminescence.
It is applied in pharmaceutical, cosmetic, water, food, ink, paint, coating, wood treatment, metalworking, nanocomposite, pesticide, fuel, wood product and many other industries. Sonication can be used to speed dissolution, by breaking intermolecular interactions. It is especially useful when it is not possible to stir the sample, as with NMR tubes. It may also be used to provide the energy for certain chemical reactions to proceed.
Sonication can be used to remove dissolved gases from liquids degassing by sonicating the liquid while it is under a vacuum. This is an alternative to the freeze-pump-thaw and sparging methods.
In biological applications, sonication may be sufficient to disrupt or deactivate a biological material. For example, sonication is often used to disrupt cell membranes and release cellular contents. This process is called sonoporation.
Sonication is also used to fragment molecules of DNA, in which the DNA subjected to brief periods of sonication is sheared into smaller fragments. Sonication is commonly used in nanotechnology for evenly dispersing nanoparticles in liquids. Additionally, it is used to break up aggregates of micron-sized colloidal particles. Sonication can also be used to initiate crystallisation processes and even control polymorphic crystallisations.
Sonication is the mechanism used in ultrasonic cleaning —loosening particles adhering to surfaces. In addition to laboratory science applications, sonicating baths have applications including cleaning objects such as spectacles and jewelry. Sonication is used in food industry as well. Main applications are for dispersion to save expensive emulgators mayonnaise or to speed up filtration processes vegetable oil etc.
Experiments with sonification for artificial ageing of liquers and other alcoholic beverages were conducted. Soil samples are often subjected to ultrasound in order to break up soil aggregates; this allows the study of the different constituents of soil aggregates especially soil organic matter without subjecting them to harsh chemical treatment.
Equipment[ edit ] Schematic of bench and industrial-scale ultrasonic liquid processors Substantial intensity of ultrasound and high ultrasonic vibration amplitudes are required for many processing applications, such as nano-crystallization, nano-emulsification,  deagglomeration, extraction, cell disruption, as well as many others.
Commonly, a process is first tested on a laboratory scale to prove feasibility and establish some of the required ultrasonic exposure parameters. After this phase is complete, the process is transferred to a pilot bench scale for flow-through pre-production optimization and then to an industrial scale for continuous production. During these scale-up steps, it is essential to make sure that all local exposure conditions ultrasonic amplitude, cavitation intensity, time spent in the active cavitation zone, etc.
If this condition is met, the quality of the final product remains at the optimized level, while the productivity is increased by a predictable "scale-up factor". The productivity increase results from the fact that laboratory, bench and industrial-scale ultrasonic processor systems incorporate progressively larger ultrasonic horns , able to generate progressively larger high-intensity cavitation zones and, therefore, to process more material per unit of time. This is called "direct scalability".
It is important to point out that increasing the power capacity of the ultrasonic processor alone does not result in direct scalability, since it may be and frequently is accompanied by a reduction in the ultrasonic amplitude and cavitation intensity. During direct scale-up, all processing conditions must be maintained, while the power rating of the equipment is increased in order to enable the operation of a larger ultrasonic horn.