What are fluoropolymers?
Fluoropolymers are a distinct subset of fluorinated polymers. They are polymers with fluorine atoms directly attached to their carbon-only backbone. With their unique physico-chemical properties, these speciality plastics are virtually chemically inert, non-wetting, non-stick, and highly resistant to temperature, fire and weather. Irreplaceable in many applications, their unique properties cannot be guaranteed by other polymers.
What are the properties of fluoropolymers?
Fluoropolymers have a unique set of properties and are:
meeting the requirements for low levels of contaminants and particulates in manufacturing environments critical for the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, medical, and semiconductor industries.
Durable, stable and mechanically strong
in harsh conditions in a variety of sectors including but not limited to automotive, aerospace, environmental controls, energy production and storage, and electronics, as well as in technical apparel.
in air, water, sunlight, chemicals and microbes.
non-wetting, non-stick, and highly resistant to temperature, fire and weather.
Why are fluoropolymers different from other PFAS?
According to the OECD, fluoropolymers can be defined as a type of PFAS. However, terms such as ‘PFAS’ or ‘fluorinated substances’ are very broad terms to group a family of over 4,700 chemicals, a definition based on their chemical structure and not their properties. Within such a large group, the chemicals have significantly varying properties and hazard profiles. As such, certain PFAS of concern such as PFOA and PFOS have been identified as a source of toxicological or environmental concern.
Although they can be defined as PFAS, fluoropolymers display different toxicological properties than certain other fluorochemicals in the PFAS family.
Commercially available types of fluoropolymers
There are fluoroplastics and fluoroelastomers. Both subsets are based on the same monomers and are structurally similar. Their main difference is the higher elasticity of fluoroelastomers, achieved through chemical cross-linking.
Fluoropolymers may be fully or partially fluorinated, linear or branched. All fluoropolymers are high molecular weight polymers with unique physicochemical properties that are distinctly different when compared to other PFAS substances.
Since the 2021 adoption of the manufacturing principles, all Fluoropolymer Products Group (FPG) member companies are engaged in concrete actions related to fluoropolymer manufacturing practices.
FPG member have launched a new Manufacturing Programme for European manufacturing sites, providing concrete solutions to address legitimate questions and concerns about emissions generated during the manufacturing of fluoropolymers, which are essential for the EU’s green and digital transitions.
The industry-led initiative goes further than current European Union requirements, effectively setting the highest standards for fluoropolymer manufacturing worldwide. With this programme, FPG members provide concrete solutions to address legitimate questions and concerns about emissions generated during the manufacturing of fluoropolymers, which are essential for the EU’s green and digital transitions.
This programme includes a concrete commitment to minimize emissions of non-polymeric PFAS residues from polymerization aids to the environment from fluoropolymer manufacturing by the following FPG member companies: AGC, Arkema, Chemours, Daikin Chemical Europe, W. L. Gore & Associates and Solvay.