Fluorinated surfactants, especially perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its derivatives, are frequently used in many industries. However, they are harmful to human health and the environment. While surfactants with only short fluorocarbon chains have lower toxicity, their physical properties need improvement. In this study, we synthesized novel anionic fluorinated surfactants with two short fluorocarbon chains per molecule, using the condensation reaction of fluoroalcohol and fluoroalkyl glycidyl ether in two-step reactions, which are carried out under mild conditions with easy work-up procedures and high yield (>80%). The products were structurally characterized, and their performance as surfactants were systematically analyzed. The critical micelle concentrations of the final products were found to be low (0.31–1.15 mmol/L), and their surface tension in 1% aqueous solution was within the range of 15.7–22.8 mN/m. These results suggest that despite their short fluorocarbon chains, these new surfactants are valuable alternatives to PFOA and its derivatives.

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Available online 20 December 2017