Fluoromix : New Way To Obtain Fluorine
Scientists from the University of Oxford have come up with a new way to obtain fluorine atoms, used to manufacture important chemical compounds used in industry and research, in a much safer and less energy-intensive way.
New procedure to obtain fluorine atoms
- To avoid hydrogen fluoride and to make the extraction process requires less energy, the researchers took inspiration from how the human body makes bones and teeth: through calcium phosphate biomineralization.
- They ground fluorspar in a ball-mill with potassium phosphate.
- While fluorine is very reactive, calcium atoms prefer phosphorus even more, so the milling created calcium phosphate and another compound with fluorine atoms. They called the latter Fluoromix.
- When Fluoromix was reacted with organic compounds, it could create around 50 fluorochemicals with up to 98% yield.
- Fluorine comes from a calcium salt called calcium fluoride, or fluorspar.
- Fluorspar is mined and then treated with sulphuric acid at a high temperature to release hydrogen fluoride (HF).
- Hydrogen fluoride is then made to react with other compounds to create fluorochemicals.
- Fluorine is a highly reactive element used to make fluorochemicals,
- It is used to produce plastics, agrochemicals, lithium-ion batteries, and drugs.
- A major downside of this process is that HF is an extremely poisonous and corrosive liquid that irritates the eyes and respiratory tract even at low concentrations.
- It also requires special transportation and storage
- Hydrogen fluoride spills have occurred numerous times in the last decades, sometimes with fatal accidents and detrimental environmental effects.