ClF3 - Chlorine Trifluoride

What is Chlorine Trifluoride?

Chlorine trifluoride is an interhalogen compound with the chemical formula ClF3. Chlorine trifluoride appears as a colourless gas or green liquid with a pungent odour. It is a severe irritant to the skin, eyes and mucous membrane. Lung damage can be caused by exposure to this gas. A 30-minute exposure to 400 ppm was and lethal to rats. The mechanism whereby metals resist the attack of elemental fluorine or of chlorine trifluoride is not completely understood. It is a powerful oxidiser and if most combustible material comes in contact with chlorine trifluoride, it ignites spontaneously.

Other names – Chlorine fluoride, trifluoro – λ3 – chlorane

Table of Contents

Structure of Chlorine trifluoride  – ClF3

Chlorine Trifluoride Structure

Chemical data of Chlorine trifluoride – ClF3

ClF3 Chlorine Trifluoride
Density 1.77 g/cm³
Molecular Weight/ Molar Mass 92.448 g/mol
Boiling Point 11.75 °C
Melting Point −76.34 °C
Chemical Formula ClF3

Physical Properties of Chlorine Trifluoride – ClF3

Odour Pungent odour
Appearance Pale green-yellow colour solid
Covalently-Bonded Unit 1
Heavy Atom Count 4
Complexity 8
Solubility Soluble in water

Preparations of Chlorine Trifluoride – ClF3

Chlorine trifluoride is prepared by the direct action of chlorine and fluorine gases. It may also be prepared by the reaction of ClF and chlorine gas.  

Cl2 + 3F2  →  2ClF3

ClF + F →  ClF3

ClF3 is one of the most reactive and aggressive compounds. It catches fire spontaneously with wood and must-building material, even with asbestos. It was used in incendiary bombs in World War II

Chemical Properties of Chlorine Trifluoride – ClF3

    • Chlorine Trifluoride dissolves in water and to form hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride and oxygen. The chemical equation is given below.

ClF3 + 2H2O → 3HF + HCl + O2

    • Chlorine Trifluoride reacts with uranium to form uranium hexafluoride and an interhalogen compound chlorine fluoride. The chemical equation is given below.

U + 3ClF3 → UF6 + 3ClF

Uses of Chlorine Trifluoride – ClF3

  • Chlorine trifluoride is used as a fluorinating agent. It may be used as an igniter and propellant in rockets.
  • Used in nuclear fuel processing.
  • Used as a fluorinating agent, incendiary, igniter and propellant for rockets, as a pyrolysis inhibitor for fluoro carbon polymers.
  • Used in nuclear fuel processing to convert uranium into gaseous hexafluoride uranium.

Frequently Asked Questions-FAQs


1. Is chlorine trifluoride banned?

Chlorine trifluoride is a highly reactive compound. It was used in incendiary bombs in World War II so the compound has been banned under the chemical weapons convention.


2. How do you store chlorine trifluoride?

Chlorine trifluoride can be stored in metals like steel, copper, aluminium, etc. It forms a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride that protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminium keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere.


3. What is the geometry of chlorine trifluoride?

Chlorine Trifluoride (ClF3) represents a trigonal bipyramidal geometry. In this compound, there are three bond pairs of electrons and two lone pairs of electrons around the central chlorine atom. So a total of five pairs of electrons represent trigonal bipyramidal geometry.


4. Can chlorine trifluoride burn water?

The larger amounts of chlorine trifluoride undergo hydrolysis in the presence of water which results in violent reaction and exposure will result in a thermal burn. Exposure to chlorine triflouride causes shortness of breath.


5. What colour is chlorine trifluoride?

Chlorine trifluoride in gaseous form appears colourless and in liquid form appears green with a pungent odour.

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