Increased restrictions on PFAS driving development of alternative materials in emerging technologies

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) 2024: Emerging Applications, Alternatives, Regulations

Assessment of emerging PFAS alternatives in critical application areas: hydrogen economy, 5G, electric vehicles, sustainable packaging. Extensive analysis of current and proposed regulations limiting the use of PFAS.

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"Forever chemicals", the colloquial term for the family of chemicals known as PFAS, is coming under increasing regulatory pressure globally as concerns over the negative effects of PFAS on human health and the environment are mounting. In this new report, "PFAS: Emerging Applications, Alternatives, and Regulations", IDTechEx dives deeply to explore the future trajectory of PFAS in five key emerging applications: thermal management for data centers, sustainable food packaging, electric vehicles, low-loss materials for 5G, and the hydrogen economy. This is accompanied by comprehensive assessment of current and proposed regulations on PFAS in eight key countries. In this report, IDTechEx leverages its technical expertise to identify potential alternatives to replace PFAS in these applications and uses industry knowledge to offer market outlooks for these alternatives.
Introducing the "forever chemical" family - PFAS
PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and refers to synthetic chemical compounds that contain multiple fluorine atoms attached to an alkyl chain. The broad definition of PFAS by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) encompasses nearly 5,000 unique chemicals, including PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene).
Unsurprisingly, the applications of different PFAS chemicals are nearly as broad as the chemical family itself. Depending on the specific chemical, PFAS can confer helpful properties such as oil and water repellence, thermal stability, ionic conductivity, and more, making it applicable in many important application sectors including semiconductor manufacturing, healthcare, non-stick cookware, and firefighting foams.
Why are concerns over PFAS rising?
With so many PFAS and just as many applications for them, why are PFAS now coming under increased scrutiny? The colloquialism "forever chemicals" hints to a key issue for PFAS: its persistence in humans, wildlife, and the environment. Not only is PFAS persistent, but they can also be found in many environments, even isolated areas; as such, there is increased exposure to PFAS through a variety of sources. Now, scientific evidence is growing that, depending on different factors, continued exposure to specific PFAS may lead to negative health effects, such as increased risk of cancer, developmental delays, and hormonal issues (per the US Environmental Protection Agency and the OECD).
A new regulatory landscape changing the trajectory of PFAS
With growing concerns over the impact of PFAS on human health and the environment, there are pushes for increased regulations on the use of certain groups of PFAS. Individual countries have taken different approaches on PFAS; on the least-restricted end are countries with no regulations on PFAS, while the heaviest level of regulation would be the countries considering universal PFAS restrictions in all applications. This report considers the regulations on PFAS in eight different economically relevant regions, including the European Union, the USA, China, Japan, and more.
Several important regions in the global economy are considering or adopting universal PFAS restrictions, including the European Union (which introduced its universal PFAS restriction proposal in 2023) and the US states of Maine and Minnesota. With such a complicated landscape of PFAS regulations potentially developing worldwide, it is essential for businesses to understand existing and proposed regulations for PFAS to understand its potential effect on them. This report provides a comprehensive overview of international and national legislation impacting the use of PFAS in different applications, highlighting potential new regulations with broad and far-reaching implications.
Alternatives for PFAS in emerging high-tech applications: a critical consideration
Similarly, with such broad legislation impacting PFAS in countless different applications, it is essential for businesses to consider potential alternatives for PFAS.
Heavy regulations on PFAS would be particularly impactful in emerging high-tech applications. In these less-established markets, PFAS can sometimes act as key technology enablers. PFAS could be used as membranes in fuel cells, as coolants for immersion cooling in data centers, as insulating materials in high voltage cables, or as moisture-repelling coatings in molded fiber packaging. Therefore, identifying replacements for PFAS in those applications will be important for the future growth of those emerging areas.
For businesses manufacturing or using PFAS in high-tech fields, this report not only identifies the specific impact of different PFAS regulations in key emerging application areas, but it also identifies potential alternatives for PFAS in these areas. Covering a broad range of growing yet critical future markets, the five main emerging technology areas analyzed in this report are:
  • Membranes in the hydrogen economy
  • Thermal management for data centers
  • Electric vehicles
  • Low-loss materials for 5G
  • Sustainable food packaging
Drawing on IDTechEx's technical expertise and industry knowledge, this report highlights the key material alternatives that could potentially replace PFAS in these emerging applications. These alternatives may be at different stages of technology readiness and market maturity, so IDTechEx analyzes their status, suppliers, advantages, disadvantages, opportunities, and challenges to provide a critical assessment of these non-PFAS alternatives' market potential. Readers of this report will not only gain a clear understanding of how future PFAS regulations may impact nascent high-tech industries but also what commercial and developing alternative materials are available to replace PFAS in these industries. With the information and analysis provided by IDTechEx in this new report, readers connected with emerging technologies will be well-versed on PFAS, its potential regulatory shifts, and future materials to replace PFAS in their fields.
Key questions answered in this report:
  • What are PFAS?
  • What are common PFAS and how are they regulated?
  • What are international regulations on PFAS?
  • How are PFAS regulated in the USA, EU, China, Japan, India, and more?
  • Why are there increasing regulations on PFAS?
  • How will universal PFAS restrictions impact future usage of PFAS?
  • What are the five key emerging technology areas utilizing PFAS and how are they utilizing them?
  • How will universal PFAS restrictions impact PFAS in emerging applications?
  • Are there alternatives for PFAS in these high-tech industries?
  • What is the technology readiness and market penetration for these PFAS alternatives?
  • Which companies and startups are supplying these alternatives?
  • What is the market outlook for different PFAS alternatives in different industries?
Key aspects
This report provides critical market intelligence on the potential impact of regulations on PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in different emerging technology areas and identifies potential replacements for PFAS in those applications.
A full assessment of current and proposed regulations on the use of PFAS in eight different regions/countries.
  • Overview of current legislation restricting PFAS in each region
  • Identification of key proposed legislation restricting or banning the use of PFAS
  • Regions covered include the European Union, United States of America, China, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan
Full analysis of high-tech emerging applications using PFAS
  • Five emerging application areas covered: electric vehicles, sustainable food packaging, low-loss materials for 5G, thermal management for data centers, and ion exchange membranes for the hydrogen economy.
  • Review of current use cases for PFAS in emerging applications
  • Key PFAS covered includes PFOS, PFSA ionomer, PTFE, FEP, PFA, HFEs, HFOs, etc.
Critical analysis of alternatives for PFAS in key high-tech emerging applications
  • Analysis of potential regulatory impacts in individual emerging applications
  • Identification of commercial and developing alternative materials for PFAS
  • Discussion of key players and suppliers developing alternatives for PFAS materials
  • Assessment of technology readiness level and market potential for PFAS alternatives
  • Key alternative materials covered include hydrocarbons, graphene, metal-organic frameworks, biobased materials, liquid crystal polymers, silicone rubber, synthetic esters, etc.
Analyst access from IDTechEx
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Table of Contents
1.1.Introduction to PFAS
1.2.Established application areas for PFAS
1.3.Overview of PFAS: segmented by non-polymers vs polymers
1.4.Growing concerns about the negative impact of PFAS
1.5.A spectrum of PFAS regulations exists globally
1.6.Summary of international and national regulations on PFAS
1.7.Common PFAS and their level of regulation
1.8.Potential universal PFAS restrictions prompting a search for alternatives
1.9.Emerging application areas for PFAS
1.10.Potential impacts of PFAS regulations on emerging application areas
1.11.PFAS in ion exchange membranes (IEMs)
1.12.PFAS in IEMs: outlook by application
1.13.PFAS in thermal management for data centers
1.14.PFAS in electric vehicles (EVs)
1.15.PFAS in low-loss materials for 5G
1.16.PFAS in sustainable food packaging
1.17.Readiness level of PFAS alternatives in emerging applications
1.18.Summary and conclusions
2.1.Introduction to PFAS
2.2.Where are PFAS used?
2.3.PFAS chemicals segmented by non-polymers vs polymers
2.4.Non-polymeric PFAS segmented by type
2.5.Summary of common PFAS discussed in this report
3.1.Introduction to Regulatory Approaches for PFAS
3.1.1.Essential-use approach: a shift in regulating chemicals?
3.1.2.A spectrum of PFAS regulations exists globally
3.1.3.Summary of international and national regulations on PFAS
3.2.International Regulations on PFAS
3.2.1.Global regulation: Stockholm Convention
3.2.2.Global regulation: Stockholm Convention as relevant to PFAS
3.2.3.Global regulation: Stockholm Convention as relevant to PFAS
3.3.EU Regulations on PFAS
3.3.1.EU regulations: three primary methods of regulating PFAS
3.3.2.EU regulations: the POPs Regulation
3.3.3.EU regulations: substances of very high concern under REACH
3.3.4.EU regulations: PFAS being evaluated under REACH for the substances of very high concern list
3.3.5.EU regulations: PFAS previously evaluated under REACH for the substances of very high concern list (part 1)
3.3.6.EU regulations: PFAS previously evaluated under REACH for the substances of very high concern list (part 2)
3.3.7.EU regulations: PFAS polymers and REACH registration
3.3.8.EU regulations: substances restricted under Annex XVII of REACH
3.3.9.EU regulations: proposed PFAS restrictions under Annex XVII of REACH
3.3.10.EU regulations: introduction of the universal PFAS restriction proposal
3.3.11.EU regulations: contents of the EU REACH PFAS restriction proposal (1)
3.3.12.EU regulations: contents of the EU REACH PFAS restriction proposal (2)
3.3.13.EU regulations: contents of the EU REACH PFAS restriction proposal (3)
3.3.14.EU regulations: contents of the EU REACH PFAS restriction proposal (4)
3.3.15.EU regulations: contents of the EU REACH PFAS restriction proposal (5)
3.3.16.EU regulations: contents of the EU REACH PFAS restriction proposal (6)
3.4.USA Regulations on PFAS
3.4.1.USA regulations: introduction to federal regulations on PFAS
3.4.2.USA regulations: Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) on PFAS
3.4.3.USA regulations: the TSCA's New Chemicals Program
3.4.4.USA regulations: other national-level regulations on PFAS
3.4.5.USA regulations: proposed legislation on PFAS
3.4.6.USA regulations: state regulations on PFAS
3.5.Regulations in Asia-Pacific Countries on PFAS
3.5.1.China regulations on PFAS
3.5.2.Japan regulations on PFAS
3.5.3.Japan regulations on PFAS: exempted uses
3.5.4.Taiwan regulations on PFAS
3.5.5.South Korea regulations on PFAS
3.5.6.India regulations on PFAS
4.1.Introduction to Ion Exchange Membranes
4.1.1.Ion Exchange Membranes
4.2.Proton Exchange Membrane: Fuel Cells & Electrolyzers
4.2.1.Introduction to fuel cells
4.2.2.PEMFC working principle
4.2.3.PEMFC assembly and materials
4.2.4.Purpose of the membrane
4.2.5.Form factor of the membrane
4.2.6.Water management
4.2.7.Proton exchange membrane electrolyzer (PEMEL)
4.2.8.Outlook for PEMEL membranes
4.3.Proton Exchange Membranes
4.3.1.Proton exchange membrane overview
4.3.2.Chemical structure of PFSA membranes
4.3.3.Important material parameters to consider for the membrane
4.3.4.Membrane degradation processes overview
4.3.5.Overview of PFSA membranes & key players
4.3.6.Market leading membrane material: Nafion
4.3.7.Nafion properties & grades
4.3.8.Pros & cons of Nafion & PFSA membranes
4.3.9.Competing membrane materials
4.3.10.Property benchmarking of membranes
4.3.11.Gore manufacture MEAs
4.4.Manufacturing PFSA Membranes
4.4.1.PFSA membrane extrusion casting process
4.4.2.PFSA membrane solution casting process
4.4.3.PFSA membrane dispersion casting process
4.5.Innovations in PFSA Membranes
4.5.1.Improvements to PFSA membranes
4.5.2.Trade-offs in optimizing membrane performance
4.5.3.Gore reinforced SELECT membranes
4.5.4.Chemours reinforced Nafion membranes
4.5.5.Chemours gas recombination catalyst additive research
4.6.Alternative PEMs
4.6.1.Innovations in PEMFC membranes may influence PEMEL (1/2)
4.6.2.Innovations in PEMFC membranes may influence PEMEL (2/2)
4.6.3.Alternative polymer materials Energy - boron-containing membrane
4.6.5.Hydrocarbons as PEM fuel cell membranes
4.6.6.Assessment of hydrocarbon membranes
4.6.7.Metal-organic frameworks
4.6.8.Metal-organic frameworks for membranes: academic research
4.6.9.MOF composite membranes
4.6.10.Graphene in the membrane
4.6.11.Outlook for Proton Exchange Membranes
4.7.Catalyst Coated Membranes
4.7.1.Membrane electrode assembly (MEA) overview
4.7.2.PEMEL vs PEMFC membrane electrode assembly
4.7.3.MEA functions & requirements
4.7.4.Typical catalyst coated membrane (CCM)
4.7.5.CCM production technologies
4.7.6.Catalyst ink formulation - key considerations
4.7.7.Comparison of coating processes
4.7.8.Examples of PFSA resin suppliers
4.7.9.Alternatives to PFAS in catalyst coated membranes: an area of need
4.8.Redox Flow Batteries
4.8.1.Membranes: Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs)
4.8.2.PFAS membrane manufacturers for RFBs: Gore
4.8.3.PFSA membrane manufacturers for RFBs
4.8.4.Alternative materials for RFB membranes
5.1.Thermal management needs for data centers
5.2.Trend of thermal design power (TDP) of GPUs
5.3.Overview of cooling methods for data centers
5.4.Cooling technology comparison (1)
5.5.Cooling technology comparison (2)
5.6.Coolant comparison
5.7.Liquid cooling - direct-to-chip/cold plate and immersion cooling
5.8.Liquid cooling - single-phase and two-phase
5.9.Comparison of liquid cooling technologies
5.10.Coolant fluid comparison
5.11.Two phase immersion cooling use case: Microsoft
5.12.A potential decline in fluorinated chemicals may impact two-phase cooling
5.13.Two-phase immersion cooling - phase out before starting to take off?
5.14.Immersion coolant liquid suppliers
5.15.What is the roadmap for coolants in two-phase immersion cooling?
6.1.Overview of PFAS in Electric Vehicles
6.1.1.Application areas for PFAS in electric vehicles
6.2.PFAS in High-Voltage Cables for EVs
6.2.1.EV Drivetrain components
6.2.2.High voltage connections in an EV
6.2.3.High voltage cable insulation
6.2.4.Operating temperature benchmark
6.2.5.Cable insulation resistance benchmark
6.2.6.Summary of PFAS in high-voltage cables for electric vehicles
6.3.PFAS-Based Refrigerants for EVs
6.3.1.Thermal system architecture of electric vehicles
6.3.2.Coolant fluids in EVs
6.3.3.What is different about fluids used for EVs?
6.3.4.Refrigerant for EVs
6.3.5.Regulations may impact future refrigerant trends for EVs
6.3.6.PFAS-free refrigerants: R744 and R290
6.3.7.Suppliers of PFAS-free coolants and refrigerants for EVs
6.4.PFAS in Immersion Cooling for Li-ion Batteries in EVs
6.4.1.Immersion cooling in EVs: introduction
6.4.2.Single-phase vs two-phase cooling
6.4.3.Immersion cooling fluids requirements
6.4.4.Immersion cooling architecture
6.4.5.Players: immersion fluids for EVs (1)
6.4.6.Players: immersion fluids for EVs (2)
6.4.7.Players: immersion fluids for EVs (3)
6.4.8.Immersion fluids: density and thermal conductivity
6.4.9.Immersion fluids: operating temperature
6.4.10.Immersion fluids: thermal conductivity and specific heat
6.4.11.Immersion fluids: viscosity
6.4.12.Immersion fluids: breakdown voltage
6.4.13.Immersion fluids: costs
6.4.14.Immersion fluids: summary
6.4.15.SWOT analysis of immersion cooling for EVs
6.4.16.IDTechEx outlook of immersion cooling for EVs
6.4.17.Outlook for PFAS-based coolants in immersion cooling for EVs
7.1.5G, next generation cellular communications network
7.2.Two types of 5G: Sub-6 GHz and mmWave
7.3.New opportunities for low-loss materials in mmWave 5G
7.4.Landscape of low-loss materials for 5G
7.5.Evolution of organic PCB materials for 5G
7.6.Benchmark of commercial low-loss organic laminates @ 10 GHz
7.7.Key properties of PTFE to consider for 5G applications
7.8.Challenges of using PTFE-based laminates for high frequency 5G
7.9.Key applications of PTFE in 5G
7.10.Regulations on PFAS as relevant to low-loss materials
7.11.Potential alternatives to PFAS for low-loss applications in 5G
7.12.Benchmarking of commercial low-loss materials for 5G applications
7.13.Landscape of key low-loss materials suppliers
7.14.Liquid crystal polymers (LCP)
7.15.Poly(p-phenylene ether) (PPE)
7.16.Poly(p-phenylene oxide) (PPO)
7.17.Hydrocarbon-based laminates
7.18.Low temperature co-fired ceramics (LTCC)
7.19.Benchmark of LTCC materials for 5G
7.20.Glass substrate
7.21.Benchmark of various glass substrates
7.22.Status and outlook of commercial low-loss materials for 5G PCBs/components
8.1.Sustainable packaging alternatives to single-use plastics
8.2.Introduction to molded fiber for sustainable packaging
8.3.Molded non-wood plant fiber for sustainable packaging
8.4.Molded fiber for sustainable food packaging
8.5.Challenges for molded fiber for sustainable packaging
8.6.Recycled paper for sustainable packaging
8.7.PFAS in food packaging
8.8.Increasing regulatory scrutiny on PFAS in food packaging
8.9.Overview of alternatives to PFAS in sustainable food-packaging applications
8.10.Solenis: supplier of PFAS-free coatings for food packaging
8.11.Introduction to cellulose and nanocellulose
8.12.Forms of nanocellulose
8.13.Nanocellulose for packaging
8.14.Innovations for recycled paper packaging
8.15.Summary of alternatives to PFAS coatings in sustainable food packaging
8.16.IDTechEx's research portfolio on emerging technologies
9.1.1s1 Energy
9.2.Elkem Silicones
9.3.Engineered Fluids
9.4.EnPro Industries (PTFE materials for 5G and satellite communication)
9.5.FUCHS: Dielectric Immersion Fluids for EVs
9.7.Ionomr Innovations (2022)
9.8.Ionomr Innovations (2024)
9.9.Kyocera: 5G Materials
9.10.M&I Materials and Faraday Future: Immersion Cooling
9.12.Panasonic: 5G Materials
9.13.Showa Denko Group: 5G Materials
9.14.Solvay Specialty Polymers
9.15.Weidmann Fiber Technology
9.16.XING Mobility: Castrol and HKS
9.17.XING Mobility: Immersion-Cooled Batteries

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Slides 233
Published Mar 2024
ISBN 9781835700273

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