Fluorine has proven itself to be an incredibly useful substance with countless applications across a wide variety of industries. In fact, the fluorochemical products derived from it sells for tens of billions of dollars every year. It is truly a lucrative industry all by itself. Below are just some of the most notable uses of these chemicals:

Steel and Aluminum Processing

Mining metals only provides us with the raw materials. There is a lot of processing performed in order to create the polished sheets, beams, and rods that we are used to seeing. Inorganic fluorides are usually added to the steel raw materials in order to reduce the melting temperature and the liquid’s viscosity. The additives can also remove unwanted substances. Some compounds are also useful for aluminum electrolysis.

Water Treatment

The public water system aims to serve consumers with potable liquid that is clean and useful for their everyday needs. In many places, fluoride is added to the supply in small quantities. This is to help people fight the development of cavities and foster good dental hygiene. Incidents of tooth decay can be significantly lowered at a relatively cheap cost.

Optical Coating

Compounds of magnesium and fluoride are widely used for optical materials. They can be excellent anti-reflection coatings for prescription glasses and optical equipment. These are also showing promise in the field of invisibility research and the creation of negative index meta materials. They are able to curve light around different objects.

HVAC Refrigerants

One of the most popular uses of gaseous fluoride-based substances is as a refrigerant in HVAC systems. Air conditioners need these to circulate around the system for heat transfer, absorbing heat from inside the house and dumping it outside. The same principle applies for appliances like refrigerators and freezers. This has been controversial because of the effects of CFCs on the ozone layer but better formulations have been developed since then to address the problem.

Insulation

The material widely known as Teflon is actually based on fluorochemical products. This is commonly used in cooking pots and pans to prevent food from sticking which makes clean-up a breeze. The coating also happens to be a great electrical insulator thanks to its stability. In architecture, this is layered with fiberglass to create fabrics that could serve as lightweight roofs for stadiums. Expanded Teflon is known to be an excellent water repellant. It is usually added to rain gear and protective apparel.

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