German Institute Developing PFAS-Free Coating


Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM have reportedly designed a coatings technology that could replace per- and polyfluorinated chemicals in everyday products.

The development arrives, the institute notes, as the European Chemicals Agency is considering a ban on the production, use and marketing of PFAS. A decision by the European Commission on this is expected in 2025, according to the German Federal Environment Agency.

“Whether it is pans, cutlery or packaging, per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) have been used for coating in a wide variety of everyday products and processes for many years,” writes the institute.

“Due to known risks of these substances to humans and the environment, at least a partial ban on the production and use of PFAS is expected to be implemented soon. The use of comparable alternatives is therefore essential for numerous companies. “

According to Fraunhofer IFAM, their plasma coatings are fluorine-free and free of other additives. They are reportedly suitable for application on enamel, glass, stoneware and porcelain.   

Additionally, because of its properties, some of the coatings can be used as non-stick coatings, sliding coatings and hydrophobic finishes.

The coating is reportedly produced through plasma technology, which is designed as a gradient layer to enable adhesion to the product body and be non-stick. The coating is also reportedly easy to clean, as well as resistant to cutting and abrasion.

“The institute's scientists also have the necessary know-how of suitable manufacturing processes to be able to finish products economically and in large quantities. Depending on the customer's needs, various concepts are available for this, such as XXL systems or throughput systems,” explains Fraunhofer IFAM.

Recent PFAS Alternative Pushes

In August, similar research was conducted by the University of Sydney, observing nano-thick “liquid-like coatings” with the potential for designing sustainable, self-cleaning materials.

According to the university’s release, the coatings the team studied are known as slippery covalently-attached liquid surfaces, or SCALS, which are produced from silicones or polyethylene glycol. Both of these materials can be broken down into harmless byproducts in the environment.

SCALS are reportedly anti-adhesive without relying on perfluorinated polymers (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” The nano-thin layers, the team explained, are two and five billionths of a meter thick or 10,000 times thinner than a human hair and are made up of oil molecules that are only a hundred atoms long.

Both alternatives arrive as global nonprofit organization Green Seal announced its plans to exclude “forever chemicals” from any of its certified paints and coatings, as well as various other materials, at the end of last month.

According to the release, the standards have previously prohibited long-chain PFAS classified as hazards. However, recent evidence reportedly shows that short-chain PFAS have the same health and environmental effects. As a result, Green Seal will update its standards for paints and coatings, floor care products, adhesives and degreasers to prohibit all approximately 12,000 chemicals in this class.

The organization added that a recent study found that half of tested paint products contain PFAS, and most acrylic and wax floor finishes contain forever chemicals. PFAS are also used to increase wettability in adhesives or to reduce flammability in cleaning and degreasing agents.


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