e-book The Chemistry of Fluorine and its Compounds

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In the periodic table , fluorine is located at the top of group 17 former group 7A , which is the halogen family. Other halogens are chlorine , bromine , iodine , and astatine. In addition, it is situated in period 2, between oxygen and neon.

Just the facts

Pure fluorine chemical formula F 2 is a corrosive gas with a characteristic pungent odor that is detectable in concentrations as low as 20 nanoliters per liter of gas volume. As the most reactive and electronegative of all elements, it readily forms compounds with most other elements. It is far too reactive to be found in elemental form and has such an affinity for most elements, including silicon , that it cannot be prepared or stored in glass vessels.

In moist air, it reacts with water to form the equally dangerous hydrofluoric acid. Fluorine reacts explosively with hydrogen even under cool conditions in the dark. It reacts violently with water to generate hydrofluoric acid and oxygen gas. Various materials—including finely divided metals and glass —burn with a bright flame in a jet of fluorine gas. Moreover, fluorine forms compounds with the noble gases krypton , xenon , and radon.

Fluorine ***

It does not, however, react directly with nitrogen or oxygen. Notwithstanding its extreme reactivity, methods for the safe handling and transport of fluorine are now available. The element can be stored in containers of steel or Monel metal a nickel-rich alloy of metals , as these materials form surface fluorides that resist further reaction. Compounds of fluorine with metals are among the most stable of salts.

When dissolved in water, these salts release fluoride ions. There are many isotopes of fluorine, ranging from 14 F to 31 F. Only one of these isotopes, 19 F, which contains 10 neutrons, is stable. The radioactive isotope 18 F is a valuable source of positrons. Bones and teeth contain most of the body's fluorine, in the form of fluoride ions. On the other hand, excess accumulation of fluoride can lead to fluorosis, manifested in the mottling of teeth.

This effect is commonly observed in communities with drinking water containing fluoride at concentrations exceeding ten parts per million. For these reasons, it must be handled with extreme care in the laboratory. Fluorine never occurs as a free element in nature. The most common fluorine minerals are fluorspar, fluorapatite, and cryolite. Apatite is a complex mineral containing primarily calcium, phosphorus, and oxygen, usually with fluorine.

Brief History

Cryolite is also known as Greenland spar. The island of Greenland is the only commercial source of this mineral. It consists primarily of sodium aluminum fluoride Na 3 ALF 6. The United States once produced small amounts of fluorspar, but its last remaining mine closed in The United States now imports the fluorine minerals it needs. Fluorine is an abundant element in the Earth's crust, estimated at about 0.

That makes it about the 13th most common element in the crust. It is about as abundant as manganese or barium. There is only one naturally occurring isotope of fluorine, fluroine Isotopes are two or more forms of an element. Isotopes differ from each other according to their mass number.


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The number written to the right of the element's name is the mass number. The mass number represents the number of protons plus neutrons in the nucleus of an atom of the element. The number of protons determines the element, but the number of neutrons in the atom of any one element can vary. Each variation is an isotope. Only one radioactive isotopes of fluorine, fluorine, has been prepared. A radioactive isotope is one that breaks apart and gives off some form of radiation.

Radioactive isotopes are produced when very small particles are fired at atoms.


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  • These particles stick in the atoms and make them radioactive. Fluroine is sometimes used for medical studies. It is injected into the body where it travels primarily to bones. Its presence in bones can be detected by the radiation it gives off. The radiation pattern discloses how normal bones are. Fluorine is sometimes used in a similar way to study brain function. Fluorine is commercially made by Moissan's method.

    An electric current is passed through a mixture of hydrogen fluoride and potassium hydrogen fluoride:. Fluorine has relatively few uses as an element. It is much too active for such applications.

    Fluorine (F) - Chemical properties, Health and Environmental effects

    One use of elemental fluorine is in rocket fuels. It helps other materials burn, like oxygen does. The greatest majority of fluorine is used to make compounds of fluorine. Fluorides are compounds of fluorine with a metal.

    Fluorine (Element)

    A familiar use of some fluoride compounds is in toothpastes. Studies show that small amounts of fluorides can help reduce tooth decay. Fluorides are deposited as new tooth material is formed, making it strong and resistant to decay. Some cities add fluorides to their water supply. By doing so, they hope to improve the dental health of everyone living in the city. Young people, whose teeth are still developing, benefit the most. The process of adding fluorides to public water supplies is called fluoridation.

    Too much fluorine in the water leads to a light brown and permanent staining.

    Facts About Fluorine

    Because of fluorine's strong and characteristic odor, it can be detected and avoided in case it leaks into a room. Some people worry about the long-term health effect of fluorides added to public water supplies. They point out that fluorine is a deadly poison and that fluorides can be toxic as well. It is true that fluorine gas is very toxic, but the properties of compounds are different than the elements involved.

    There is little evidence to support these concerns. Fluorides tend to be dangerous only in large doses. The amount of fluoride added to public water supplies is usually very small, only a few parts per million. Most dental and health experts believe that fluoridation is a helpful public health practice, not a threat to the health of individuals. S erendipity plays a big part in scientific research.


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    • The term serendipity means a discovery made by accident. One of the most profitable discoveries made this way is of the material known as Teflon. Teflon is the trade name of a kind of plastic made by the DuPont Chemical Company. It has become an important commercial product for one main reason: very few things stick to Teflon. Most kitchen cupboards probably contain skillets with cooking surfaces covered with Teflon. Most food will not stick to the pans as they cook.

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      And Teflon pans need no oil or butter. Teflon was discovered by accident in by a DuPont chemist named Roy Plunkett To carry out the experiment, he set up the equipment so that the gaseous TFE would flow into a container of HCl. When he opened the valve on the TFE container, however, nothing came out! Plunkett could have discarded the tank, but he didn't. Instead, he sawed open the container. But in the less slightly less dangerous form, Teflon. Pure fluorine is a greenish-yellow, extremely reactive, toxic gas.