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What is fluorine-free oil repellent?

Time : 2024-02-05 Hits : 39

The Rise of Concerns over Fluorinated Chemicals 

The movie "Dark Water" tells the story of an American lawyer who takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company he once served, launching an investigation and facing off against the corporation. The story is based on Nathaniel Rich's article "The Lawyer Who Became DuPonts Worst Nightmare," published in The New York Times. The lawsuit primarily revolves around decades of DuPont's production and use of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and the environmental concerns it has sparked.

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As the story has been widely circulated, a chemical term in the story, "PFOA," has become increasingly familiar to people. PFOA stands for Perfluorooctanoic Acid, which is a surfactant widely used in the production process of fluoroplastics due to its excellent properties. Its main function is to aid in the dispersion of fluoroplastics such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). However, in recent years, the safety of this chemical has been widely questioned.

 

The safety of chemicals is generally evaluated and analyzed from several dimensions, commonly abbreviated within the industry as PBT, which stands for Persistent, Bio-accumulative, and Toxicity. These terms represent environmental persistence, biological accumulation, and toxicity, respectively. For the three attributes of PFOA, extensive research has been conducted, revealing its P and B characteristics. While its T characteristic has not been fully confirmed, it has raised widespread concern, prompting industries across the board to initiate a wave of phasing out PFOA.

PFAS and Environmental Regulation 

In recent years, as the phase-out of PFOA has accelerated, another chemical term,PFAS, has quickly become a hot topic. PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Polyfluoroalkyl substances, which include a wider range of fluorinated compounds, such as PFOA, PFOS, PFHxA, PFHxS, etc., all belong to PFAS. This category encompasses over 4,700 fluorinated compounds, covering almost all fluorine-containing products in the chemical industry. The main reason why these substances have attracted attention is their exceptional stability; they are not easily degraded in the environment and typically exhibit persistent properties. Consequently, concerns arise about their long-term environmental presence and accumulation due to their persistence.

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Fluorides are widely used in our daily lives, with one familiar example being polytetrafluoroethylene, commonly known as "plastic king." It plays a significant role in both industrial and domestic settings. For instance, non-stick cookware, a household staple, is coated with a layer of polytetrafluoroethylene, providing its non-stick properties. Similarly, textiles undergo waterproof, oil-proof, and stain-resistant treatments, commonly referred to as "three-proof finishing," using fluorides to treat the fabric. In the food packaging industry, fluorides are also employed to treat paper for packaging oily foods, providing waterproof and oil-resistant properties.


Due to widespread concern over PFAS, the European Union took the lead in addressing the issue. In March 2023, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) initiated a public consultation on proposals submitted by Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden to add restrictions on the manufacture, placing on the market, and use of PFAS to Annex XVII of REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals). The purpose was to allow stakeholders to express their opinions on including PFAS in REACH restrictions and implementing controls. Following the conclusion of the public consultation, ECHA's Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and Socio-Economic Analysis Committee (SEAC) will assess the proposed restrictions based on the consultation feedback. The final decision on whether to include PFAS in restrictions and implement controls will be made by the European Commission.

Impact on Traditional Fluorine Chemical Companies

Traditional fluorine chemical companies such as DuPont, 3M, and Daikin, which have been around for centuries, are facing tremendous pressure. In 2022, 3M announced a $10.3 billion settlement to be paid over the next 13 years (approximately 74 billion RMB) and plans to exit the fluorine chemical business by 2025. Similarly, DuPont agreed to pay a $670 million settlement in a long-standing environmental lawsuit and to exit the fluorine chemical business in certain areas. These actions by multinational corporations reflect the widespread concerns about fluorides in society.

 

Pulp molded products, commonly known as paper tableware, have been rapidly popularized and developed in recent years due to their hygiene and easy degradability.Fluoride treatment agents are generally used as additives to impart waterproof and oil-proof functions to paper tableware. Although fluoride has been successfully applied to the treatment of paper tableware, concerns about PFAS globally will lead to its elimination from paper product applications. For instance, the U.S. FDA announced on its official website that from January 1, 2024, fluorides listed in FCN for oil-resistant paper treatment will be phased out of the market.

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Introduction of Non-Fluorinated Oil-Resistant Products 

It's both a challenge and an opportunity. While major companies are phasing out fluorinated chemicals, they are actively seeking alternatives. For anti-oil agents used in paper processing, the new substitutes need to meet several requirements: firstly, they must be fluorine-free; secondly, they must perform well in waterproof and oil-resistant properties, especially against hot and cold oils; thirdly, they must be implementable under existing processing conditions.


Currently, some companies have introduced non-fluorinated oil-resistant products to the market. Compared to traditional fluorinated oil repellents, their performance varies. Overall, they can be described as "translucent but not transparent." For example, in the oil resistance test for paper tableware, pouring hot oil at 85°C into a paper bowl or plate and maintaining it for 30 minutes without discoloration or leakage is considered qualified. Traditional fluorinated treatment agents can easily achieve this, whereas current non-fluorinated oil repellents tend to discolor quickly after oil is poured on them. Although they may not leak under certain conditions after 30 minutes, their performance cannot be considered satisfactory. Moreover, once the oil temperature exceeds a certain threshold, such as 60°C, leakage occurs immediately, and they cannot even prevent permeation of oils at refrigeration temperatures. These products still cannot match the performance of original fluorinated oil repellents, indicating the immense technical challenges involved.

Chem-Plus: Addressing Performance Challenges

Chem-Plus product effectively addresses this issue, fully meeting the three major application requirements. Firstly, it is fluoride-free. Both the product itself and the tableware made with Chem-Plus oil-repellent agents have passed testing by the authoritative laboratoryensuring complete fluoride absence.

 

The second is that the anti-oil performance test fully meets the requirements. In a leading position within the industry, our multi-component allocation anti-oil solution can achieve stable oil resistance at any temperature between 20-70°C. The technology is mature, and currently, product thickness can reach 0.5-0.6mm.

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Thirdly, it can be perfectly matched with existing processes. The Chem-Plus product has already passed the validation production of large-scale machinery, with stable processes and outstanding performance.

 

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Chem-Plus oil-resistant agents pioneered the mass production of fluorine-free oil-resistant agents for practical applications both domestically and internationally. Utilizing Chem-Plus oil repellent, new types of paper tableware resistant to temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius have been produced and gradually recognized by consumers. May the new generation of fluorine-free products address market demands and meet user needs.