Refrigerants and chlorofluorocarbons

Thomas MidgleyThomas Midgley

Refrigerants and chlorofluorocarbons

The first compressor-assisted refrigerator made for home use was introduced in 1918

Charles KetteringCharles Kettering

Since being introduced for home use in 1918, refrigeration has altered food preservation by providing the ability to transport and store fresh foods safely. In the early 1920s refrigerators were unpopular since the sulfur-dioxide coolant proved to be toxic.

Refrigerators dramatically changed production as well as consumer habitsRefrigerators dramatically changed production as well as consumer habits

The solution was Freon 12, a chlorofluorocarbon (also referred to as a CFC, CCl2F2) compound made into a refrigerant gas by Thomas Midgley and Charles Kettering in 1931. Refrigerators quickly became standard in homes, restaurants, and grocery stores.


Freon's role is now being discontinued because of its role in the destruction of the earth's ozone layer. Concerns with the depletion of the ozone layer have led to increased use of isobutane as a gas for refrigeration systems, especially in domestic refrigerators and freezers.

Did you know?

Iceboxes were the common appliances for providing refrigeration in the home before technology made compact mechanical refrigerators feasible. Ice was produced and exported on an industrial scale and played an inportant role in global economy. In 1872, for example, 225,000 tons of ice were exported on specially designed and insulated ships from the United States.