Let you stay away from "Reaper"
Date: 2021-3-3

Recently there was a short article being published describing the discovery of fluorine, in which according to the research topic for most participants, is considered as a dangerous and the most difficult to work with in the history of chemical elements.

In 1771, Carl Wilhelm Scheele heated fluorite and sulfuric acid together and discovered that the glass containers were corroded. He believed that acidic substances were produced in them, therefore he called this substance "fluorite acid". Currently we know that this is a very corrosive hydrofluoric acid and Scheler has a tendency of personally "tasting" the chemical element. He has smoked toxic chlorine and also tasted the highly toxic hydrocyanic acid.  Unfortunately due to close contact with hydrofluoric acid without proper protection or safety procedures, we believe Scheler died at the age of 44 because of this reason.

In 1813, Sir Humphry Davy discovered several new elements using electric currents. During this period, he decided to use electric current to decompose fluoride. At first, he used silver chloride and platinum as a container and energized the hydrofluoric acid, but the platinum electrodes were later corroded. Afterwards he thought that he could simply use fluoride—fluorite as a container. This time in this experiment, the anode had an interaction and it turned out to be oxygen. It seems that the electrolysis is water, not hydrofluoric acid. This has effected Davy’s health and finally lived to be 50 years old.

During the same period when Davy was conducting such experiments, French scientists Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Tyner also tried the same way to obtain fluorine, but they were unsuccessful. The two were also poisoned by inhaling excessive amounts of hydrofluoric acid and were forced to stop the experiment.

In 1836 Scottish chemists, the Knox brothers, also challenged this problem. They treated mercury fluoride with dry chlorine and put a piece of gold foil on the top of the container. In the end, they obtained gold fluoride. However, they did not expect that fluorine could even connect with gold, has a corrosive reaction. In the end, both of their brothers were seriously poisoned. His younger brother Thomas Knox almost died, and his brother George Knox was sent to Italy for three years to recuperate before he recovered.

After the Knox brothers, the Belgian scientist Rouyette and the French chemist Nicholas also died conducting similar experiments.

Although countless predecessors failed, it did not stop the French chemist Henri Moissan from conducting such experiments. After continuous exploration and improvement, in 1886 Moissan finally produced a platinum U-shaped tub, in which the Fluorine reacts slowly with the smooth platinum surface. The fluorite is grounded to make a plug, in which the mixture of arsenic fluoride, phosphorus fluoride, and potassium fluoride is loaded into the U-shaped tube. While this was occuring, the temperature outside the tube is adjusted with a coolant. When the temperature dropped to -23°C, he inserted the electrode and turned on the current. As soon as this occured, yellowish gas started to appear above the anode. During this experiment, fluorine was successfully produced for the first time in a laboratory environment. However, Moissan has dedicated 10 years of his life in pursuing this scientific achievement, in which he was 55 years old when the new element was discovered.

Observing that how harmful and dangerous the element fluorine can be towards living tissue, one would ponder if the scientists at that time knew that containing fluorine could potentially harm the ozone layer. Unfortunately due the new knowledge occurring, any new discovery comes with risk. In the 21st Century, lab technicians worldwide are very fortunate that safer practices are in place to improve safety. One of the designers and manufacturer for lab equipment, CANNON, has adopted semiconductor refrigeration for all refrigeration equipment for the protection of operators and the environment, providing a safer choice for everyone.


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