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Polytetrafluoroethylene ( PTFE) is a synthetic of tetrafluoroethylene that has numerous applications. The best-known brand name of PTFE-based formulas is Teflon by . Chemours is a spin-off of , which originally discovered the compound in 1938. Another popular brand name of PTFE is Syncolon® by Synco Chemical Corporation.

PTFE is a solid, as it is a high compound consisting wholly of and . PTFE is : neither water nor water-containing substances wet PTFE, as fluorocarbons demonstrate mitigated London dispersion forces due to the high electronegativity of fluorine. PTFE has one of the lowest coefficients of of any solid.

PTFE is used as a non-stick coating for pans and other cookware. It is nonreactive, partly because of the strength of carbon–fluorine bonds, and so it is often used in containers and pipework for reactive and corrosive chemicals. Where used as a , PTFE reduces friction, wear, and energy consumption of machinery. It is commonly used as a graft material in surgical interventions. It is also frequently employed as coating on ; this interferes with the ability of bacteria and other infectious agents to adhere to catheters and cause hospital-acquired infections.

PTFE was accidentally discovered in 1938 by Roy J. Plunkett while he was working in New Jersey for . As Plunkett attempted to make a new chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant, the tetrafluoroethylene gas in its pressure bottle stopped flowing before the bottle's weight had dropped to the point signaling "empty." Since Plunkett was measuring the amount of gas used by weighing the bottle, he became curious as to the source of the weight, and finally resorted to sawing the bottle apart. He found the bottle's interior coated with a waxy white material that was oddly slippery. Analysis showed that it was polymerized perfluoroethylene, with the iron from the inside of the container having acted as a catalyst at high pressure. Kinetic Chemicals patented the new fluorinated plastic (analogous to the already known ) in 1941, and registered the Teflon trademark in 1945.

By 1948, DuPont, which founded Kinetic Chemicals in partnership with , was producing over two million pounds (900 tons) of Teflon brand PTFE per year in Parkersburg, West Virginia. American Heritage of Invention & Technology, Fall 2010, vol. 25, no. 3, p. 42 An early use was in the Manhattan Project as a material to coat valves and seals in the pipes holding highly reactive uranium hexafluoride at the vast K-25 plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

(1986). 9780671657192, Simon and Schuster. .

In 1954, Collette Grégoire, the wife of French engineer Marc Grégoire urged him to try the material he had been using on fishing tackle on her cooking pans. He subsequently created the first PTFE-coated, under the brandname (combining "Tef" from "Teflon" and "al" from aluminium)." Teflon History ",, Retrieved 25 January 2009. In the United States, Marion A. Trozzolo, who had been using the substance on scientific utensils, marketed the first US-made PTFE-coated pan, "The Happy Pan", in 1961.Robbins, William (21 December 1986) " Teflon Maker: Out Of Frying Pan Into Fame ", New York Times, Retrieved 21 December 1986 (Subscription)

However, Tefal was not the only company to utilize PTFE in nonstick cookware coatings. In subsequent years, many cookware manufacturers developed proprietary PTFE-based formulas, including Swiss Diamond International, which uses a diamond-reinforced PTFE formula; Swiss Diamond Technology Swiss Diamond International Scanpan, which uses a titanium-reinforced PTFE formula; About SCANPAN SCANPAN and both FAQ's "Is Nonstick Safe," All-Clad FAQ and Newell Rubbermaid's Calphalon, which use a non-reinforced PTFE-based nonstick. FAQ's "Does your cookware contain Teflon?" Calphalon FAQ Other cookware companies, such as Meyer Corporation's Anolon, use Teflon Knowledge Base Analon nonstick coatings purchased from Chemours. Chemours is a 2015 corporate spin-off of DuPont.

In the 1990s, it was found that PTFE could be radiation above its melting point in an oxygen-free environment. Electron beam processing is one example of radiation processing. Cross-linked PTFE has improved high-temperature mechanical properties and radiation stability. This was significant because, for many years, irradiation at ambient conditions has been used to break down PTFE for recycling. Electron Beam Processing of PTFE E-BEAM Services website. Accessed 21 May 2013 This radiation-induced allows it to be more easily reground and reused.

PTFE is produced by of tetrafluoroethylene. The net equation is
n F2C=CF2 → −(F2C−CF2) n
Because tetrafluoroethylene can explosively decompose to tetrafluoromethane and carbon, special apparatus is required for the polymerization to prevent hot spots that might initiate this dangerous side reaction. The process is typically initiated with , which homolyzes to generate sulfate radicals:
O3SO−OSO32− ⇌ 2 SO4
The resulting polymer is terminated with groups, which can be hydrolyzed to give OH .Carlson, D. Peter and Schmiegel, Walter (2000) "Fluoropolymers, Organic" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim.

Because PTFE is poorly soluble in almost all solvents, the polymerization is conducted as an emulsion in water. This process gives a suspension of polymer particles. Alternatively, the polymerization is conducted using a surfactant such as .

PTFE is a , which is a white solid at room temperature, with a density of about 2200 kg/m3. According to Chemours, its melting point is . Fluoroplastic Comparison - Typical Properties Retrieved 16 January 2018. It maintains high strength, toughness and self-lubrication at low temperatures down to , and good flexibility at temperatures above . Teflon PTFE Properties Handbook Retrieved 11 October 2012. PTFE gains its properties from the aggregate effect of carbon-fluorine bonds, as do all fluorocarbons. The only chemicals known to affect these carbon-fluorine bonds are highly reactive metals like the , and at higher temperatures also such metals as aluminium and magnesium, and fluorinating agents such as and cobalt(III) fluoride. DuPont Teflon Coatings.

2200 kg/m3
Glass temperature
(2019). 9781849733915, Royal Society of Chemistry. .
Thermal expansion112–125×10−6 K−1
Thermal diffusivity0.124 mm/s
Young's modulus0.5 GPa
23 MPa
Bulk resistivity1018 Ω·cm
Coefficient of friction0.05–0.10
Dielectric constant,
Dielectric constant (60 Hz),
Dielectric strength (1 MHz)60 MV/m
Magnetic susceptibility (SI, 22 °C)−10.28×10−6

The coefficient of friction of plastics is usually measured against polished steel. Coefficient of Friction (COF) Testing of Plastics MatWeb Material Property Data Retrieved 1 January 2007. PTFE's coefficient of friction is 0.05 to 0.10, which is the third-lowest of any known solid material (BAM being the first, with a coefficient of friction of 0.02; diamond-like carbon being second-lowest at 0.05). PTFE's resistance to van der Waals forces means that it is the only known surface to which a cannot stick." Research into Gecko Adhesion ", Berkeley, 2007-10-14, Retrieved 8 April 2010. In fact, PTFE can be used to prevent insects climbing up surfaces painted with the material. PTFE is so slippery that insects cannot get a grip and tend to fall off. For example, PTFE is used to prevent ants climbing out of .

Because of its chemical inertness, PTFE cannot be like an . Therefore, it has no "memory" and is subject to creep. Because of its superior chemical and thermal properties, PTFE is often used as a gasket material within industries that require resistance to aggressive chemicals such as pharmaceuticals or chemical processing. However, because of the propensity to creep, the long-term performance of such seals is worse than for elastomers which exhibit zero, or near-zero, levels of creep. In critical applications, Belleville washers are often used to apply continuous force to PTFE gaskets, ensuring a minimal loss of performance over the lifetime of the gasket.

Processing PTFE can be difficult and expensive, because the high melting temperature, , is above the initial decomposition temperature, . Even when melted, PTFE does not flow, but instead behaves as a due to the absence of crystalline phase and high melt viscosity.

Some PTFE parts are made by cold-moulding, a form of compression molding. Here, fine powdered PTFE is forced into a mould under high pressure (10–100 MPa). After a settling period, lasting from minutes to days, the mould is heated at , allowing the fine particles to fuse into a single mass.

Applications and uses
The major application of PTFE, consuming about 50% of production, is for wiring in aerospace and computer applications (e.g. hookup wire, coaxial cables). This application exploits the fact that PTFE has excellent properties,
9780824725952, CRC Press. .
Extract of page 574
especially at high , making it suitable for use as an excellent insulator in connector assemblies and , and in printed circuit boards used at frequencies. Combined with its high melting temperature, this makes it the material of choice as a high-performance substitute for the weaker and lower-melting-point commonly used in low-cost applications.

In industrial applications, owing to its low friction, PTFE is used for , , , seals, gaskets, bushings, and more applications with sliding action of parts, where it outperforms and .Mishra & Yagci, p 573

Its extremely high bulk makes it an ideal material for fabricating long-life , the analogues of .

PTFE film is also widely used in the production of carbon fiber composites as well as fiberglass composites, notably in the aerospace industry. PTFE film is used as a barrier between the carbon or fiberglass part being built, and breather and bagging materials used to incapsulate the bondment when debulking (vacuum removal of air from between layers of laid-up plies of material) and when curing the composite, usually in an autoclave. The PTFE, used here as a film, prevents the non-production materials from sticking to the part being built, which is sticky due to the carbon-graphite or fiberglass plies being pre-pregnated with resin. Non-production materials such as Teflon, Airweave Breather and the bag itself would be considered F.O.D. (foreign object debris/damage) if left in layup.

Because of its extreme non-reactivity and high temperature rating, PTFE is often used as the liner in assemblies, expansion joints, and in industrial pipe lines, particularly in applications using acids, alkalis, or other chemicals. Its frictionless qualities allow improved flow of highly viscous liquids, and for uses in applications such as brake hoses.

is a brand of expanded PTFE (ePTFE), a material incorporating a fluoropolymer membrane with micropores. The roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in , US, was one of the largest applications of PTFE coatings. of the material was used in the creation of the white double-layered PTFE-coated fiberglass dome.

PTFE is often found in musical instrument lubrication product; most commonly, valve oil.

PTFE is used in some aerosol lubricant sprays, including in micronized and polarized form. It is notable for its extremely low coefficient of friction, its hydrophobia (which serves to inhibit rust), and for the dry film it forms after application, which allows it to resist collecting particles that might otherwise form an abrasive paste.

PTFE (Teflon) is best known for its use in coating non-stick and other cookware, as it is and possesses fairly high heat resistance.

The sole plates of some clothes irons are coated with PTFE (Teflon). Fers à repasser semelle teflon - Fiche pratique - Le Parisien. Retrieved on 2016-11-17.

Other niche applications include:

  • It is often found in ski bindings as a non-mechanical AFD (anti-friction device)
  • It can be stretched to contain small pores of varying sizes and is then placed between fabric layers to make a waterproof, breathable fabric in outdoor apparel.
  • It is used widely as a fabric protector to repel stains on formal school-wear, like uniform blazers.
  • It is used as a film interface patch for sports and medical applications, featuring a pressure-sensitive adhesive backing, which is installed in strategic high friction areas of footwear, insoles, ankle-foot orthosis, and other medical devices to prevent and relieve friction-induced blisters, calluses and foot ulceration.
  • Expanded PTFE membranes have been used in trials to assist surgery to treat glaucoma.
  • Powdered PTFE is used in pyrotechnic compositions as an with powdered metals such as and . Upon ignition, these mixtures form carbonaceous and the corresponding metal , and release large amounts of heat. They are used in infrared decoy flares and as for solid-fuel rocket . Aluminium and PTFE is also used in some fuel compositions.
  • Powdered PTFE is used in a suspension with a low-viscosity, azeotropic mixture of siloxane ethers to create a lubricant for use in twisty puzzles.
  • In optical , sheets of PTFE are used as measuring heads in spectroradiometers and broadband radiometers (e.g., meters and ) due to PTFE's capability to diffuse a transmitting light nearly perfectly. Moreover, optical properties of PTFE stay constant over a wide range of wavelengths, from UV down to near . In this region, the ratio of its regular transmittance to diffuse transmittance is negligibly small, so light transmitted through a diffuser (PTFE sheet) radiates like Lambert's cosine law. Thus PTFE enables cosinusoidal angular response for a detector measuring the power of optical radiation at a surface, e.g. in solar measurements.
  • Certain types of bullets are coated with PTFE to reduce wear on the rifling of firearms that uncoated projectiles would cause. PTFE itself does not give a projectile an armor-piercing property.
  • Its high corrosion resistance makes PTFE useful in laboratory environments, where it is used for lining containers, as a coating for magnetic stirrers, and as tubing for highly corrosive chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid, which will dissolve glass containers. It is used in containers for storing fluoroantimonic acid, a .
  • PTFE tubes are used in gas-gas heat exchangers in gas cleaning of waste incinerators. Unit power capacity is typically several megawatts.
  • PTFE is widely used as a thread seal tape in plumbing applications, largely replacing paste thread dope.
  • PTFE membrane filters are among the most efficient industrial air filters. PTFE-coated filters are often used in dust collection systems to collect from air streams in applications involving high temperatures and high particulate loads such as coal-fired power plants, cement production and steel foundries.
  • PTFE grafts can be used to bypass in peripheral vascular disease if a suitable autologous graft is not available.
  • Many bicycle lubricants and greases contain PTFE and are used on and other moving parts subjected to frictional forces (such as hub bearings).
  • EPTFE is used for some types of .
  • PTFE can also be used for , to isolate the contacts of the anterior tooth so the filling materials will not stick to the adjacent tooth.
  • PTFE sheets are used in the production of butane hash oil due to its non-stick properties and resistance to non-polar solvents.
    (2014). 9781936807239, Quick American Archives.
  • PTFE, associated with a slightly textured laminate, makes the plain bearing system of a Dobsonian telescope.
  • PTFE is widely used as a non-stick coating for food processing equipment; dough hoppers, mixing bowls, conveyor systems, rollers, and chutes. PTFE can also be reinforced where abrasion is present – for equipment processing seeded or grainy dough for example.
  • PTFE has been experimented with for electroless nickel plating.
  • PTFE tubing is used for Bowden tubing in 3D printers because its low friction allows the extruder stepper motor to push filament through it more easily.
  • PTFE is commonly used as an aftermarket add-on for to reduce friction of the mouse against the mouse pad, resulting in a smoother glide.

of PTFE is detectable at , and it evolves several gases and a sublimate. An animal study conducted in 1955 concluded that it is unlikely that these products would be generated in amounts significant to health at temperatures below .

While PTFE is stable and nontoxic at lower temperatures, it begins to deteriorate after the temperature of cookware reaches about , and decomposes above . The degradation by-products can be lethal to , and can cause flu-like symptoms in humans—see polymer fume fever. Meat is usually fried between , and most oils start to before a temperature of is reached, but there are at least two cooking oils (refined at and at ) that have a higher .

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, or C8) has been used as a in the emulsion polymerization of PTFE, although several manufacturers have entirely discontinued its use.

PFOA persists indefinitely in the environment. It is a and in animals. PFOA has been detected in the blood of more than 98% of the general US population in the low and sub-parts per billion range, and levels are higher in chemical plant employees and surrounding subpopulations. The general population has been exposed to PFOA through massive dumping of C8 waste into the ocean and near the Ohio River Valley. PFOA has been detected in industrial waste, stain resistant carpets, carpet cleaning liquids, , , water, food and Teflon cookware. As a result of a class-action lawsuit and community settlement with , three conducted studies on the population surrounding a chemical plant that was exposed to PFOA at levels greater than in the general population. The studies concluded that there was an association between PFOA exposure and six health outcomes: kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Overall, PTFE cookware is considered an insignificant exposure pathway to PFOA.

Similar polymers
The Teflon trade name is also used for other polymers with similar compositions:

  • Perfluoroalkoxy alkane (PFA)
  • Fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP)

These retain the useful PTFE properties of low friction and nonreactivity, but are also more easily formable. For example, FEP is softer than PTFE and melts at ; it is also highly transparent and resistant to sunlight. FEP Detailed Properties, Parker-TexLoc, 13 April 2006. Retrieved 10 September 2006.

See also
  • Superhydrophobic coating
  • Magnesium/Teflon/Viton pyrolant thermite composition
  • Polymer adsorption
  • Polymer fume fever
  • BS 4994 PTFE as a thermoplastic lining for dual laminate chemical process plant equipment
  • The Devil We Know (film) documentary on PTFE's health and environmental effects

Further reading

External links

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