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Evidence for Elemental Fluorine in Nature

German scientists confirm occurrence of elemental fluorine in nature

Stinkspat mineral with elemental fluorineGerman researchers reported they have found experimental evidence for the presence of elemental fluorine in the mineral antozonite.

The mineral antozonite  “is characterized by the presence of multiple inclusions containing elemental fluorine when the crystals are crushed or broken, the elemental fluorine is released”, according to wikipedia, but chemists have doubted for long time the existance of elemental fluorine in nature.

Fluorine is the most reactive of all chemical elements and requires extremely careful handling. Because of its very aggressive properties, until now university professors have taught to their students that fluorine cannot occur in nature in its elemental form.

Fluorine is extremely aggressive to the extent that glass laboratory equipment cannot resist it, yet elemental fluorine (F2) has numerous industrial applications including corrosion prevention or fuel tank diffusion barriers and it is used for the manufacturing of sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) , which serves as insulating material in high voltage switches.

The surprising occurrence of elemental fluorine is explained by constant radiation inside the mineral containing uranium, providing the required energy to split CaF2 into ints elements.

The experimental evidence of  elemental fluorine formed in-situ has now been provided by NMR spectroscopy by German research groups at the Technische Universität Munich, to be published in the leading chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.

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About the author :  Dr. Christian Schumacher is the founder and managing director of StepChange Innovations GmbH. He has 20 years of experience in the chemical industry with global players such as Hoechst AG and DyStar Textilfarben GmbH as head of R&D, senior regional business manager Asia Pacific, head of e-commerce, head of marketing services, new product development manager and R&D chemist.


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