Atoms and Molecules

Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) – Definition, Formulas, Examples

Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)

The scientific invention is growing at a rapid pace. With this level of pollution is also increasing. Pollution is changing the earth’s atmosphere. Most pollutants are coming from human activities like burning fuels, industrial processes, motor vehicles, etc. Some harmful chemical compounds thrown out in the atmosphere are carbon dioxide, CO, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, tiny solid particles of gasoline, CFC, HFC, etc.

Increase in forest fires, volcanic eruptions are worsening the situation further. One of the major pollutants among them is CFC. Let us discuss chlorofluorocarbons in detail.


Chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs

Chlorofluorocarbon is an organic compound that does not occur naturally. They are man-made gas. It contains carbon, chlorine, and fluorine, produced as a volatile derivative of methane, ethane, and propane.

Commonly known by the name freon, the manufacture of CFCs. In the past 50 years, cfc emission has increased considerably. It is a colorless, odorless and chemically non-reactive gas. Moreover, we can find it in the atmosphere as it remains there for a long time.

CFC is also one of those gases involved in the greenhouse effect. It is particularly harmful because of its destructive reactions with ozone particles, which protects the earth from UV radiations. Few specialized products are the main source of CFCs.

Sources of CFC

a) Refrigerators and air conditioners – Refrigerants are the most common emitter of CFC. If the coolant used in refrigerators, air conditioners, cars, are not properly disposed it will leak CFCs in the atmosphere. Either the coolant will evaporate or get into the soil, contaminating both with CFC.

b) Aircraft halon – Aviation industries in some countries are still using fire suppression system with halon. Also, it is a coolant having CFC in it. Conclusive measures should be followed to dispose of this dangerous chemical or to recycle the material.

c) Aerosol sprays – Aerosol cans and propellant liquid use gases containing CFCs. Slowly this industry is using less harmful hydrocarbon. However, CFCs have a life span of 50 to 100 years, still having an impact on the damage done in previous decades.

d) Rogue CFCs – Without any proper dumping method and recycling process, the older and obsolete Refrigerants and aerosol cans are throw in the open environment. CFCs leak from them further contaminating the environment.

The Ozone Layer Depletion

 In the stratosphere about 20 to 30 km from the ground, there is a thin layer of ozone particles. It absorbs the UV rays thus protecting everyone from the exposure of deadly radiation. An ozone molecule has three atoms of oxygen (O₃).

It forms when oxygen reacts with solar radiations to break into two oxygen atoms. These single atoms combine with O₂ to form an ozone molecule. This cyclic process constantly absorbs the radiation.

Moreover, this depletion contains halogenOzone which is its major cause. CFCs is non-reactive, so it migrates to the stratosphere with the wind. Sun’s radiation breaks down the CFC molecules making chlorine atoms free.

Furthermore, these atoms react with ozone (O₃) reducing it to O₂. This is a cyclic process in which ozone molecules continuously breaks down. Most severe ozone depletion occurred in the south pole. It was first seen over Antarctica.

The Montreal Protocol

In 1987, a group of 24 nations met together in Montreal, Canada. They all agreed on a protocol to reduce the use of substances depleting the ozone layer. They agreed to phase out the use of CFCs and other chemicals by 1995.

Besides, in 2016, a group of scientist brings out that the ozone layer is slowly healing. This proofs that the Montreal Protocol is working. They also believe that Antarctica ozone hole will completely heal by the 21st century.

Solved Question for You

Q – What are the ways to lower the use of CFCs and HCFCs?

Ans- use of modern technology air-conditioning and refrigeration technology which do not use CFCs. We can use CFC-22 which is less harmful as it stays in the environment for a short time. In addition, buying of aerosol propellants which do not use HCFCs. Moreover, regular inspection and maintenance of ACs and refrigeration appliances should be done. We should properly dispose of and recycle these products.

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