Aerosol propellants and refrigeration devices often make use of chlorofluorocarbons and related compounds more commonly known as their trade name, Freon. Freon also acts and an organic solvent though it is a man-made compound. Although there are dozens of types of Freon, they all fall into CFC, HFC and HCFC categories. Leave the handling of Freon to professionals as prolonged exposure can cause heart complications.
CFC stands for chlorofluorocarbon, which is an organic compound made of carbon, fluorine, chlorine and sometimes hydrogen elements. Though CFC is nontoxic and nonflammable, it contributes to the depletion of stratospheric ozone shields. Often in the form of a halogenated – or halogen-treated – hydrocarbon, CFC lends itself to aerosol spray propellants, refrigerants, solvents and foam-blowing devices. The most common CFC-based types of Freon include the dichlorodifluoromethane Freon 12, the trichlorofluoromethane Freon 11, the dichlorotetrafluoroethane Freon 114 and the trichlorotrifluorethan Freon 113. All of these are odorless compounds mostly used in the operation of refrigeration and air conditioning systems.
Hydrofluorocarbons contain hydrogen, fluorine and carbon. Hydrofluorocarbon-, or HFC-, based Freons act in much the same way as CFC Freons but do less damage to the ozone layer. Unlike most CFC-based Freon types, HFC-based Freon does not contain ozone-destroying chlorine or bromine atoms. HFCs do act as greenhouse gasses, however, releasing more warming agents into the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. As the 1987 Montreal Protocol internationally phases out CFC Freon, many professionals are turning to HFC Freon. Like CFC Freons, HFC Freons are often used in refrigeration and air conditioning. They also lend themselves to the production of insulating foams.
Freons based on hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs, serve as another alternative to ozone-depleting CFC-based Freon types. HCFC compounds consist of hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine and carbon elements. As it contains chlorine, HCFC Freon contributes to the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer though not as much as CFC Freon. As of 2010, HCFCs are being phased out, starting with the HCFCs that have the highest ozone depletion potentials, or ODPs. Following those HCFCs, others will be phased out accordingly. Like CFC- and HFC-based Freon types, HCFC Freons generally act as refrigerants.