Resisting the urge to burn!

27 Jun 2016. NUS researchers have developed new halodefluorination reaction with potential for new flame retardant materials.

A team led by Prof Rowan YOUNG and his research group from the Department of Chemistry in NUS has developed a new reaction that generates poly-brominated materials from environmentally hazardous fluorocarbon waste. The reaction utilises silicon halides, a cheap by-product of the silicon industry, and non-metallic catalysts to perform the transformation under mild conditions. Not only does the reaction produce useful halogenated products, it also consumes hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), materials that greatly contribute to global warming.

Prof Young and his team are focusing this technology on the development of new Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs), additives that are incorporated into many plastics to reduce their flammability. Such an application has the potential to allow a waste-to-asset scheme. Current disposal of HFCs incurs great cost, but the ability to generate industrially useful materials from these waste products can result in lower costs of disposal or even a net profit!

To explore the feasibility of this approach, Prof Young is engaging with Prof HO Han Kiat from the Department of Pharmacy in NUS and Dr Jian Wei XU from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). Together they will explore the best methods of synthesising BFRs, the acute toxicity of any BFRs manufactured and the fire retarding ability of the BFRs produced.

   RYoung Chem 20160511 1                   

Figure shows that the catalytic halodefluorination offers the ability to recycle fluorocarbon waste materials. [Image credit: Rowan Young]



Goh KK, Sinha A, Fraser C, Young RD. “Catalytic halodefluorination of aliphatic carbon-fluorine bonds”. RSC Advances 6 (2016) 42708.