The key difference between PFOA and PTFE is that PFOA contains a carboxylic acid group as the functional group in addition to carbon and fluorine atoms, whereas PTFE is a polymer containing only carbon and fluorine atoms.
PFOA is an organic compound having a carbon chain and a functional group. PTFE is a polymer material containing a large number of repeating units. However, both these substances contain carbon and fluorine atoms.
What is PFOA?
The term PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid. It is the conjugate base of perfluorooctanoate or C8. It is a perfluorinated carboxylic acid that is useful worldwide as a surfactant. Also, it is important as a material feedstock. In its chemical structure, PFOA contains a tail structure and a head group. Therefore, we can name it as a fluorosurfactant. The head group is hydrophilic while the tail groups are hydrophobic and lipophobic. This is mainly because the tail group is inert and does not interact with most of the polar and nonpolar compounds.
There are several applications of PFOA such as carpeting, upholstery, apparel, floor wax, textile, fire-fighting foam and sealants production. It is an important surfactant in the process of emulsion polymerization of fluoropolymers. In addition, it is important in the formation of perfluoroalkyl-substituted compounds and some other polymer materials as a building block material.
What is PTFE?
The term PTFE stands for polytetrafluoroethylene. Teflon is its common name. This material is a polymer material, and it has fluorocarbon units as repeating units. We can classify it as a synthetic fluoropolymer. The general formula of the repeating unit is (C2F4)n.
PTFE polymer material is a high molecular weight substance containing only carbon and fluorine atoms. This substance exists in the solid phase at room temperature. Furthermore, this material does not get wet due to its hydrophobicity. We can consider this material as a non-reactive substance, and it is useful as a non-stick coating as well. PTFE is non-reactive due to the strength of the C-F bond. Furthermore, PTFE is important in manufacturing containers and pipes. Apart from that, we can use this material as a lubricant as well – PTFE can reduce friction and the energy consumption of machinery. However, PTFE is poorly soluble in almost all the solvents.
The production process of Teflon mostly involves free-radical polymerization. Here, we can produce PTFE by polymerizing tetrafluoroethylene. However, this method requires specialized and sophisticated machinery because tetrafluoroethylene tends to explosively convert into tetrafluoromethane, which is a dangerous side reaction of this production.
When considering its polymer properties, PTFE is a thermoplastic polymer. It occurs as a white solid at room temperature. The density of this material is about 2200 kg/m3. At very low temperatures, Teflon shows very high strength and toughness with self-lubrication properties. At high temperatures, it has good flexibility as well. Since this material is highly unreactive, the chemical species that can make a significant effect on it includes highly reactive chemical species such as alkali metals.
What is the Difference Between PFOA and PTFE?
PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid while PTFE stands for polytetrafluoroethylene. The key difference between PFOA and PTFE is that PFOA contains a carboxylic acid group as the functional group in addition to carbon and fluorine atoms, whereas PTFE is a polymer containing only carbon and fluorine atoms.
Below infographic of difference between PFOA and PTFE presents more comparisons between both polymers.
Summary – PFOA vs PTFE
PFOA and PTFE are short names used to refer to different organic compounds having long names. PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid while PTFE stands for polytetrafluoroethylene. The key difference between PFOA and PTFE is that PFOA contains a carboxylic acid group as the functional group in addition to carbon and fluorine atoms, whereas PTFE is a polymer containing only carbon and fluorine atoms.