No future for "eternity chemicals


Companies that use cooling fluids based on perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are facing pressure. The days of PFAS are numbered. While restrictions were previously only in place for individual PFAS, a proposal from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) now suggests a complete ban on all substance classes of the environmentally harmful "eternal chemicals". The consequences are serious: manufacturers of PFAS-based heat transfer fluids will soon stop producing the product lines they are using. Customers in the electronics industry are forced to replace PFAS-based cooling fluids such as 3M™ Novec™* with environmentally compatible alternative products. That's exactly what FRAGOL now offers.

We talk about this with Lara Beede, technical application expert for cooling fluids and Silicone oils at FRAGOL.


Ms. Beede, why are PFAS the products of first choice in the chemical industry?

PFAS include more than 10,000 substances that are extremely chemically and thermally stable. They also have excellent water-, grease- and dirt-repellent properties. PFAS are therefore found in numerous everyday products such as cosmetics, cookware or textiles, but also in crop protection or fire extinguishing agents.


What are the advantages of PFAS in the field of heat transfer fluids?

Fluids with special properties are needed for cooling electronic components. If electrical non-conductivity and non-flammability are essential when the cooling fluid comes into contact with the material to be cooled, PFAS were previously considered indispensable. They are ideal for use in various operating temperature ranges and are very compatible with the material. Due to their long service life, maintenance requirements are also low. But this is exactly the problem.


Why is this a problem?

PFAS get into the environment, they disperse via the water cycle in a very short time and are only degraded very slowly. That's why PFAS cause massive – and irreversible – damage to ecosystems. Studies have shown that PFAS not only accumulate permanently in water and soil, but also in the human organism via food and drinking water. This can have significant consequences: impairing reproduction, damaging the immune system and even increasing the risk of cancer. 


What is the political response to this?

The EU has recognized the problems surrounding the issue of PFAS and is acting consistently. A process is currently brought on the way for comprehensive legal regulation of all PFAS. The aim is to ban them, including their use in cooling fluids. Customers should therefore look for alternatives. 


Does FRAGOL offer an alternative?

Yes! With our newly developed product range FRAGOLTHERM® E-Coolants, we can substitute PFAS-based electronic fluids such as 3M™ Novec™*. Chemically, we take a completely different method. FRAGOLTHERM® E-Coolants are synthetic heat transfer fluids based on polydimethylsiloxanes, in simple terms: silicone oils.


Does this mean that FRAGOLTHERM® E-Coolants do not contain any harmful fluorine compounds?

We do not use any fluorinated compounds or any other legally regulated substances that could permanently pollute the environment: Our products contain no halogens, aromatics, benzenes or fluorinated hydrocarbons. So we will definitely not be affected by PFAS regulations. Environmental pollution and health hazards are reduced to an absolute minimum.


Are the product benefits comparable to those of PFAS-based coolants?

FRAGOLTHERM® E-Coolants are electrically non-conductive, thermally and oxidatively highly stable, neither toxic nor reactive and have a high heat capacity. This makes them just as efficient as 3M™ Novec™*, for example – but, as I said, considerably more environmentally compatible.


For which applications are FRAGOLTHERM® E-Coolants suitable?

The products are suitable for all high-performance applications in the electrical industry where a non-conductive fluid is required for heat or cold transport. For example, in electrical test procedures or in the cooling of high-performance electronic applications. Here, the components that need to be kept within a certain temperature range can either be cooled indirectly or directly immersed in our cooling fluid. For example, applications in the semiconductor industry, immersion bath cooling or cold storage of biological samples are also possible.


Can you give a concrete example of the application for the FRAGOLTHERM® E-Coolants?

The company hyperdrives GmbH from Munich has developed a new generation of directly cooled, electric drives. During the development phase, a variety of cooling fluids were tested. With FRAGOLTHERM® E-Coolant 80, we have the only product on the market that was able to meet all of hyperdrives' requirements: a high thermal and oxidative stability as well as a very low viscosity, similar to water. Despite "direct" cooling of the electric motor, neither corrosion nor short circuits occurred with FRAGOLTHERM® E-Coolant 80. 


What is your advice to companies still using PFAS-based cooling fluids?

Time is short. The necessary qualification process for product substitution should be initiated as soon as possible. Companies that need a product that is as powerful as it is environmentally friendly for cooling or as an insulator can contact us directly. We will discuss the specific application, determine the individual cooling requirements and examine the possible uses of our E-Coolants.


Thank you very much for the information, Ms. Beede!


* NOVEC is a registered trademark of 3M Company


Product Data Sheet FRAGOLTHERM® E-Coolant 80

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