Hydrofluoric acid, the aqueous form of hydrogen fluoride, is a colorless acid that is used widely across industries, such as refrigerants to herbicides to electrical components. Hydrofluoric acid’s extensive industrial applicability can be attributed to its high reactivity due to the presence of fluorine ions. Its natural reactivity also makes it extremely corrosive, which implies that it can be dangerous if it comes in direct contact with skin, lungs or eyes. In spite of this, hydrofluoric acid is considered a ‘weak’ acid as it doesn’t completely dissociate in water.
Applications of Hydrofluoric Acid
Hydrogen fluoride reacts with water to form hydrofluoric acid. The acid is used in the processing and extraction of metals, rocks, oil and bricks. In addition, it acts as an intermediate compound in various chemical reactions.
Hydrofluoric acid can be used to eliminate rust, dissolve metals and etch glass. The acid is also added to automotive cleaners and water spot removers. When the acid is used in welding and manufacturing operations, it releases a potent odor into the environment, which can be quite irritating for the human body. Let’s look at some of the major applications of hydrofluoric acid in detail:
- Glass and Metal Etching
For decades, hydrofluoric acid is being used in the glass and metal industry for the purpose of etching. Glass is made of silicon dioxide, which can be classified as an inert substance. Hydrofluoric acid molecules can disrupt the silicon-oxygen bond that leads to breakdown of the glass material. In addition, as it is a weak acid, it is able to dissolve metals (except nickel and its alloys like silver, gold and platinum). However, materials like Teflon, neoprene and natural rubber do not react with hydrofluoric acid.
- Petrochemical Industry
In addition to the glass and metal industry, hydrofluoric acid finds application in the petrochemical industry. In most applications, the chemical acts as a catalyst in the process of alkylation, which is used in the processing and refining of crude oil. Alkylation is able to enhance the yield in crude oil processing, as well as improve the quality of the extracted products. Therefore, hydrofluoric acid is a key component to boost the process efficiency and economy in this sector.
- Agricultural Industry
In agriculture, hydrofluoric acid is extensively used in the production of fluorine-rich pesticides, insecticides and herbicides. It is useful in stimulating soil efficiency through rain and dew, however, it has little effect on the crop’s yield, fluorine uptake, as well as soil acidity.
- Producing Fluorocarbons
Hydrofluoric acid also finds application in the production of fluorocarbons (compounds made of carbon and fluorine). These compounds are mostly used in the manufacturing of aerosol sprays and refrigerants.
- Polymer Industry
Hydrofluoric acid is an indispensable chemical in the manufacturing of polymers comprising of fluorine. For instance, hydrofluoric acid acts as a source of fluorine in the development and manufacturing of various organofluorine polymers, such as Teflon, fluoropolymers and freon. In addition, hydrofluoric acid is used for preparing various high-volume inorganic fluoride substances, including cryolite and aluminum trifluoride.
Hydrofluoric Acid Safety Measures and Best Practices
As mentioned before, hydrofluoric acid can pose major risks to its users’ health if they are not trained to handle it properly. Let’s take a look at some guidelines for ensuring safety while working with hydrofluoric acid:
1) In case, the acid gets released into your surroundings, you need to ensure that you expose yourself to fresh air as soon as you can and leave the area of acid release. In case, the acid release occurred indoors, you should evacuate the building immediately. However, if the emergency coordinators are present on the site of release, they might instruct you to evacuate the building or shelter in a particular place. In that case, you should follow the instructions accordingly.
2) If you suspect that were exposed to the chemical, you must make sure to remove every item of clothing and wash yourself with water. Post that, ensure to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Overview of Microlit Lentus
Microlit LENTUS is a proprietary Bottle Top Dispenser, which is engineered cautiously with tested high-quality raw material and is suitable across applications using Hydrofluoric Acid. Microlit Lentus is a highly accurate and precise liquid handling instrument that can be used to dispense high-purity media, such as acids and bases, including hydrofluoric acid in a safe manner. The design was carefully created by our in-house team of product design engineers and is integrated with award-winning technologies, such as Springless Valve™ and Recirculation Valve™, that enable higher accuracy and seamless dispensing by preventing loss of reagent during purging.
In addition, it comes with two powerful product innovations and features, EasyKnob™ and FlexiNozzle™ that greatly enhance its ergonomics, ease of use, precision and flexibility. Not only the instrument is designed with intuitive handling in mind, our team is focused on ensuring excellent chemical compatibility and safety, with difficult-to-handle compounds, including Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) and other corrosive reagents.
To know more about the features of the Microlit LENTUS Bottle Top Dispenser, visit our website www.microlit.us.