Refrigerants have a 75-year history, during which they have contributed to the quality of life and business. DuPont, Wilmington, Del., has compiled a timeline of refrigerant developments since the products first were introduced in the 1930s. Below is a summary of that list.


  • Frigidaire demonstrated R-12, positioning fluorocarbon refrigerants as superior to toxic alternatives then in use.
  • Freon became a registered trademark for fluorocarbons.
  • DuPont introduced a series of commercial Freon, which later become the basic intermediate for Teflon.
  • Air-conditioning expanded to restaurants, drug stores and large retail stores. The first window air-conditioner was introduced in 1932 but was not mass produced.
  • General Motors developed a vapor compression system with R-12 and installed a prototype self-contained unit in a Cadillac trunk.


  • The Equitable Building in Portland, Ore., became the prototype for the modern fully air-conditioned office building.
  • Aerosol insecticides, based on Freon propellants, were produced for U.S. troops in the Pacific.
  • Fluorocarbons were used for refrigeration transport, frozen-food production and medical applications, including frozen blood plasma.
  • R-13 was developed and released in 1945.


  • The number of air-conditioned cars jumped from 3,000 pre-war models to 36,000 by 1954, reaching one million by 1959.
  • DuPont released its registered refrigerant numbering system for general use to avoid confusion and proliferation of different names for similar products.
  • The modern refrigerator went into mass production.
  • R-14 was made available for use.


  • Aerosol containers consumed more than half the fluorocarbons being
  • R-502 was introduced as a commercial refrigerant and sold in supermarkets.
  • Freon 13 was introduced for temperature refrigeration at -100oF (-73.33oC) and lower, intended for use with R-13 or R-22 in a cascade system.


  • Research began for alternative refrigerants after questions arose about harmful effects of fluorocarbons on the stratospheric ozone.
  • DuPont introduced HFC-134a as a CFC.
  • DuPont initiated direct contact, or fluid bed, freezing of food.


  • The "ozone hole" was discovered over Antarctica in 1985.
  • The Montreal Protocol required a 50 percent decrease in CFC consumption over 10 years.
  • Carmakers shifted to alternative refrigerant R-134a as a replacement to R-12. New components such as condensers and compressors were developed, as were new materials such as lubricants and desiccants.


  • The United States phased out CFCs.
  • DuPont developed the Suva family of refrigerants called HCFCs and HFCs.

Most recently, DuPont Fluorochemicals marketed HFC refrigerant blends manufactured in China, and in 2002 won the National Medal of Technology for its role in phasing out chlorofluorocarbons. For more information, visit