R12 Refrigerant, R-12 or R 12 or Freon 12: Properties Advantages & Disadvantages

Refrigerant R12 or Freon 12

Refrigerant R12 or Freon 12 is said to be the most widely used of all the refrigerants being used for different applications. The chemical name of refrigerant R12 is dichlorodifluoromethane and its chemical formula is CCl2F2. The molecular weight of R12 is 120.9 and its boiling point is -21.6 degree F. Since R12 has the molecules of chlorine and fluorine, it is called as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC).

R-12 is a highly versatile refrigerant that is used for wide range of refrigeration and air conditioning applications though in many air conditioning applications it is now replaced by R22 refrigerant. Refrigerant R12 is used in domestic refrigerators and freezers, liquid chillers, dehumidifiers, ice makers, water coolers, water fountains and transport refrigeration. The wide range of applications of the refrigerant are due to its safe properties.

Properties of R12 and its Advantages

Here are some of the important properties of the refrigerant R12:

1) Safe properties: Refrigerant R12 is nontoxic, nonflammable, and non-explosive. This makes it highly popular for the domestic as well as the commercial applications.

2) Stability: R12 is highly stable chlorofluorocarbon and it does not disintegrate even under the extreme operating conditions. However, if it is brought in contact with the flame of fire or the electrical heating element, it disintegrates into the toxic products. Thus whenever there is leakage of R12 refrigerant it is advised to put all the flames off and keep the doors open so that it can escape to the open atmosphere.

3) Suitable for wide range of operating conditions: R12 has the boiling point of -21.6 degree F (-29.8 degree C) due to which it condenses at the moderate pressures at the atmospheric temperature. This means the discharge pressure of the compressor should be only moderate so as to produce the condensation of the refrigerant in the condenser at the atmospheric temperature. This helps in using the compressor of low compression ratio that has higher efficiency. Due to this property of refrigerant R12, it is used in wide range of applications like high-temperature, medium temperature and low-temperature applications. It can be used will all types of compressors like reciprocating, centrifugal and rotary.

4) Miscibility with oil: Refrigerant R12 is miscible with the compressor oil under all the operating conditions. There are two advantages of this property of R12. Firstly, there is no problem of the oil return back to compressor. Some particles of the oil from compressor tend to get carried away with the discharged refrigerant, because of the property of miscibility of R12, these particles return back to the compressor easily. The second advantage of miscibility is that the refrigerant flowing through the condenser and the evaporator is free of the oil particles. The oil particles within the refrigerant reduce the heat transfer from it, but such problem does not occur with R12 refrigerant. Due to this the heat transfer capacity of the condenser and evaporator is increased, which ultimately helps increase the efficiency of the refrigeration plant.

Disadvantages of Refrigerant R12

1) Low refrigerating effect per pound: The refrigerating effect of R12 per pound of its weight is low compared to the other refrigerants. However, this is not the major disadvantage as it can be used constructively in some cases. In the smaller systems, the greater weight of the R12 helps controlling the refrigeration system in a better way. In the larger systems this disadvantage is offset by the higher vapor density of the refrigerant thus the compressor displacement required per ton of refrigeration with the R12 refrigerant is not much higher than compared with the other refrigerants. The high heat transfer rates in the condenser and the evaporator due to absence of the oil also helps reduce the effects of this disadvantage.

2) R12 is CFC: R12 is the most widely used refrigerant, unfortunately it is the CFC and it has unusually high potential to cause the depletion of the ozone layer. R12 is being replaced by other refrigerants and some of the suggested replacements for R12 are: R-134a, R-401a, R-401b.


Book: Principles of Refrigeration by Roy J. Dossat, fourth edition, Prentice Hall

This post is part of the series: Refrigerant R12 (R-12 or R 12)

This is the short series of articles that describes the properties, advantages and disadvantages of R-12. It also describes the alternative replacements for R12.
  1. Refrigerant R12: Properties, Advantages and Disadvantages
  2. Replacement for R12 Refrigerant