Fluorine-free functional coatings: Promising alternatives to PFAS

PFAS - the "forever chemical"

PFAS is the abbreviation for per- and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds, also known as "forever chemicals". These synthetic fluorine compounds include a variety of more than 10,000 substances. They have excellent technical properties such as water, dirt and grease repellency.... As a result of these properties, they have been in use for decades in a wide range of applications. Their molecular structure - consists of short, medium or long chain molecules with bonds between carbon and fluorine. The bond between these two atoms is very stable and therefore difficult or impossible to break down in the environment.

PFAS ban in the EU - now what?

The combination of physical and chemical effects in ORMOCER® coatings enables tailor-made solutions replace PFAS.

ORMOCER® belongs to the group of inorganic-organic hybrid polymers and was developed at Fraunhofer ISC more than 30 years ago. It is characterised by high hardness, resistance to wear, temperature and environmental influences. It can be considered as a material class in its own right and combining the advantages of inorganic (glass or ceramics) and organic (polymer) materials in a new, hybrid material that can contribute to the careful use of resources and sustainable materials management. 

ORMOCER® instead of PFAS?

All-rounder but not (yet) an all-in-one solution

Many basic PFAS properties are already covered by the ORMOCER® material class. Additives can be used to design additional surface functions such as friction properties (tribology). A fluorine-free all-in-one solution has not yet been developed, but combinations of different functions for different application areas (e.g. non-stick, medical devices, aerospace) and requirement profiles are possible.

Our scientists are able to design multifunctional coatings on a wide range of materials according to customer specifications. 

Please contact us and we will be happy to advise you.


Send Request

Example video: Drop test

In the video clip, you can see how well water beads off on a PFAS-free coating. Several other more challenging media have already been successfully tested.

In the future, for example, cleaning processes in industrial plants can be carried out much more effectively and, above all, in a way that conserves resources.

Fluorine-free functional materials made by Fraunhofer ISC

Fluorine-free dirt-repellent coatings (for furniture, among other things)

Hydrophobic / hydrophilic coatings
© Fraunhofer ISC

For "anti-soiling surfaces", both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties have been combined in a new coating. This effect is also called omniphobic and was previously a typical PFAS property.

The very stable and abrasion-resistant coating could be permanently applied to all common household surfaces. It has been shown that environmentally friendly PFAS-free anti-soiling coatings are certainly possible at an attractive cost.

Easy to clean coatings
© AdobeStock / vecteezy

"Everything except ketchup"


Tests with olive oil, red wine, coffee and toothpaste showed excellent results. Only ketchup has (so far) proved out to be a recalcitrant candidate. If tomatoes are not part of the specification, we are happy to answer further questions and go into detail.


Flyer Easy-to-clean Coatings

Fluorine-free coatings for food packaging and cushioning textiles

Fluorine-free functional coatings for textiles and food packaging
© alexandercho, Freepik / unsplash

The ambitious goal of the "ZeroF" project is to replace PFAS with renewable raw material and non-toxic compounds. The materials developed should be highly resistant to water, oil and grease and reduce environmental impact by at least 25 %.

Fraunhofer ISC is focusing on the development of an omniphobic coating for textiles. The ORMOCER® system developed at the ISC is used as an alternative to PFAS, optimised by chemical composition, different additives, and nano- and microstructuring.


More about ORMOCER® coatings

Press Release ZeroF

Website Project ZeroF

Fluorine-free anti-grease coatings on paper

Anti-grease coating on paper
© AdobeStock

Development of a packaging material with an overall better environmental performance


The EU-Project "PLASMANICE" also aimed at replacing fluoropolymer-based grease barrier materials with sol-gel coated bioplastics and replacing non-renewable barrier packaging films with renewable-based materials in general.

In preliminary biodegradability tests, the hybrid coating material showed 90 percent degradation, which is also a promising feature for its use as a coating on biodegradable biopolymers (e.g., paper) in packaging applications.


Coatings for films and packaging

Release agent for PU foam parts (BMBF project "PermaTrenn")

Release agent for PU foams
© pexels

As a part of the BMBF project "Permanent release agent coating based on hybrid nanocomposites (PermaTrenn)", the Fraunhofer ISC, together with industrial partners, has developed novel permanent release agent coatings for plastics processing in the automotive supply industry.

This high-performance and environmentally friendly tool coating minimises the use of release agents and in some cases renders them completely superfluous - a success from both an economic and ecological perspective.

Hydrophobic ORMOCER® coating with high surface roughness due to incorporated particles

Surface structuring with ORMOCER® coating
© Fraunhofer ISC

Here we have combined the chemical nature of the non-stick coating - in this case hydrophobicity - additionally with a well-known physical effect - the lotus effect. This has been achieved using particulate additives. A wide range of application-specific non-stick or anti-soiling formulations can be designed using this combination of chemical and physical effects. In addition, many other functions can be integrated into the few µm thin layers.

So there is a lot of potential for PFAS replacement!