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Freon (frēˈŏn) [key] [trade name], any one of a special class of chemical compounds that are used as refrigerants, aerosol propellants, and solvents. These compounds are haloalkanes, i.e., halogen derivatives of saturated hydrocarbons (see alkane). Every Freon contains at least some fluorine in its molecule, and most contain chlorine or bromine as well. Freons are generally colorless, odorless, nontoxic, noncorrosive, nonflammable, and chemically unreactive. The most commonly used is Freon-12, or dichlorodifluoromethane (CCl2F2), which boils at - 29.8°C and is thus a gas at ordinary temperatures and pressures. It is prepared by the reaction of carbon tetrachloride with hydrogen fluoride in the presence of a catalyst. There are a number of other Freons. Some of those containing bromine in their molecules are used in fire extinguishers. See also chlorofluorocarbons.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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