New discovery reveals key role of nickel ions in the Simons process

This groundbreaking research enables a targeted improvement of the Simons process, which is of great importance for the chemical industry

13-May-2024

Researchers at the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) and Freie Universität Berlin have deciphered the exact mechanism of the Simons process for the first time. The electrochemical process is of great importance for the production of fluoroorganic compounds and is used in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, plastics production and electronics, among others.

BAM

Accumulations of nickel ions form a dark film on an anode.

The Simons process, named after its discoverer, the American chemist Joseph H. Simons, uses an electrochemical process to synthesize fluoroorganic compounds. By passing a current through an electrolyte solution containing hydrogen fluoride at an anode and a cathode, fluorine-containing ions are produced which react with other ions or molecules in the solution to form the desired fluorine-containing compounds.

Although this process has been used for over 70 years, the exact mechanism of the Simons process has remained a mystery until now. All that was known was that a black film forms on the nickel anode during the electrolysis process.

To be able to analyze this film more precisely, the interdisciplinary team of researchers used the synchrotron source BESSY II at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for the first time. With the help of a specially developed measuring cell, it was possible to carry out in-situ measurements at the anode, which even allowed individual atoms to be observed during electrofluorination. The investigations revealed that during the Simons process, centers of highly valent nickel ions are formed in the black layer, which are crucial for the success of electrofluorination.

This groundbreaking discovery makes it possible to specifically improve the Simons process and make it more efficient, which is of great importance for the chemical industry. The research was carried out as part of the Collaborative Research Center "Fluorine-Specific Interactions" funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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Chemical synthesis is at the heart of modern chemistry and enables the targeted production of molecules with specific properties. By combining starting materials in defined reaction conditions, chemists can create a wide range of compounds, from simple molecules to complex active ingredients.

15+ products
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