Friday, January 29, 2016

Defluorination seems like a worthy goal

Via ACS Central Science, an interview with ETH Zurich's Kristopher McNeill and his plans to tear C-F bonds asunder (article by Mark Peplow):
Why do you choose to focus on remediating fluorocarbons? 
There has already been a huge boom in perfluorinated compounds, like Scotchgard. Now fluorine is increasingly showing up in drugs and pesticides. The C–F bond is strong, and this stability can be a curse because it allows molecules to persist in the environment for a long time. 
It’s not like they’re a scourge, but there are some data on environmental toxicity for certain fluorocarbons. So we’ve worked on ways to remediate them under mild conditions, and discovered a rhodium-based catalytic system to dehalogenate fluorobenzene rings. We designed it to work in water at room temperature, because fluorocarbon contamination is largely a groundwater problem. 
The next step would be to try it out on a contaminated site. We don’t know of any that are accessible to us so far—I only know of one reported site—so we could also look at a model of a contaminated site.
Considering this week's hot topic, this seems like a worthy goal and something that's reasonably ambitious. I like it.


  1. Ozerov already has some great work on this.

  2. A Perspective and a synthesis article for those interested: