Unprecedented breakthrough in fluorochemical production based on Biomimicry    

Researchers at Oxford University have led the development of a nature-inspired method for creating fluorochemicals, eliminating the need for harmful hydrogen fluoride (HF) gas. The application of these compounds includes polymers, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and lithium batteries, among others. Traditionally, its production involves the use of polluting chemicals under conditions of extreme pressure and temperature.

Scientists have been inspired by the biomineralization process by which teeth and bone are naturally produced, taking an alternative route in which HF gas is not produced. Lead professor Véronique Gouverneur has declared this breakthrough as a holy grail for a field that has been sought it after for decades. In his words: “The transition to sustainable chemical manufacturing methods with reduced impact or no detriment to the environment is today a high priority goal that can be accelerated with ambitious programs and a total rethinking of current processes".

In this method, calcium fluoride (CaF2) or fluorspar is activated by the nature-inspired biomineralization process under which calcium phosphate minerals are biologically formed in teeth and bones by mixing powdered potassium phosphate with solid fluorspar through a vessel called mortar for several hours. The resulting product, Fluormix allowed the synthesis of 50 fluorochemicals with 98% productivity. This application in biomimicry complies with several of the principles of nature:

  • Use low energy processes.
  • Emplear química amigable con la vida

Source: The Engineer UK

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