Anhydrous Hydrogen Fluoride (AHF) is a clear and colorless fuming liquid. It is of corrosive nature and has an extremely acrid odor. AHF is also referred to as hydrogen fluoride or anhydrous hydrofluoric acid. Its CAS Number is 7664-39-3 and the chemical formula is HF. AHF easily dissolves in water. It is obtained from fluorspar (fluorite), which is abundantly available in China, Mexico, Russia, and Southern parts of Africa.
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Annual worldwide production of AHF exceeds 1 million tons. AHF is widely used in the chemical and petrochemical sectors. Chemical applications include the manufacture of organic and inorganic fluorine compounds. In the petrochemical industry, AHF acts as a catalyst in the manufacture of high-octane gasoline (alkylation). It is also consumed in nuclear technology, where it is used to manufacture and reprocess fuel elements.
Key applications of the global anhydrous hydrogen fluoride (AHF) industry are halogen alkane, corrosion glass, fluoride salt, fluorine refrigerant, and others. North America, Europe, Japan, Southeast Asia, and India are the main regional market segments. China is an important market at present. It is expected to grow at a considerable pace over the forecast period. This is attributed to growing consumption by end-users and wide availability of the necessary raw materials.
AHF is an important raw material in various industries. It is used to make blowing agents, aluminum, stainless steel, and electronic components. It is also incorporated in the processing of minerals. Fluoride is added to public drinking water supplies. It is also used in various dental products. This is expected to spur industry growth.
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However, the highly corrosive nature of the chemical may restrict its growth across the world. Even moderate exposure to concentrated AHF leads to severe burns, cardiac arrhythmias, and death. Various regulatory authorities have defined workplace exposure limits. Manufacturers also have to provide the mandatory workplace safety measures such as protective eyewear (face shields, safety glasses, goggles, etc.), acid-resistant clothing, respiratory gear, etc. Strict norms are in place regarding disposal and storage as well.
Leading Chinese manufacturers of AHF are Fujian Shaowu Yongfei Chemical Industry Co. Ltd., China Starf, Jiangxi Tianxing, Shangdong Dong Yue Group, and Hunan Youse. Other reputed vendors in the global space include Honeywell, Solvay, and Ineos. Honeywell is the leading worldwide producer.
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