What is the Difference Between HCFC and HFC

HCFC and HFC are synthetic chemicals introduced as alternatives to more harmful CFCs. The two compounds have similarities as well as differences among them. The major difference between HCFC and HFC is the elemental composition. This article aims to provide a comparison between the two compounds along with their impact on the environment.

What is the difference between HCFC and HFC? HCFC contains chlorine, whereas HFC does not contain chlorine.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is HCFC (Hydrochlorofluorocarbon)
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is HFC (Hydrofluorocarbon)
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between HCFC and HFC
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between HCFC and HFC
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: HCFC and HFC
      – Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons, HCFC, HFC, Hydrofluorocarbons

Difference Between HCFC and HFC - Comparison Summary

What is HCFC

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are a group of man-made chemical compounds that contain hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. Developed as alternatives to the more harmful chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), HCFCs gained popularity for their lower ozone-depleting potential. These compounds were widely used in various industrial applications, including refrigeration, air conditioning, and foam-blowing agents.

HCFCs played a transitional role in the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances outlined in the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty established in 1987. The protocol aimed to protect the Earth’s ozone layer by reducing and eventually eliminating the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances. HCFCs were considered a more environmentally friendly option compared to CFCs, as they have shorter atmospheric lifetimes and lower ozone depletion potentials.

HCFC | Hydrochlorofluorocarbons

However, it became evident that HCFCs still posed environmental challenges. While they have a reduced impact on ozone depletion compared to their predecessors, they contribute to global warming due to their greenhouse gas properties. Consequently, the international community initiated a gradual phase-out of HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol. The phase-out schedule aimed to balance environmental protection with the need for sustainable alternatives in various industries.

As nations continue to transition away from HCFCs, there is a growing emphasis on adopting alternative technologies and substances that are both ozone-friendly and climate-friendly.

What is HFC

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are synthetic compounds that belong to the family of greenhouse gases. Due to their lower impact on the ozone layer, they gained prominence as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). HFCs are widely used in various industrial applications, including refrigeration, air conditioning, and foam-blowing agents.


While HFCs do not deplete the ozone layer, they have raised concerns as potent contributors to global warming. These compounds have a high global warming potential (GWP), meaning they trap heat in the atmosphere with greater efficacy than carbon dioxide over a specific time frame. The use of HFCs has surged in response to the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances, aligning with the Montreal Protocol’s objectives.

Efforts to address the environmental impact of HFCs have gained momentum globally. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, adopted in 2016, aims to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs. Countries are committed to reducing their use of these substances to mitigate climate change effects. Transitioning to more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as low-GWP refrigerants and sustainable technologies, is crucial for combating the adverse effects of HFCs on climate.

Similarities Between HCFC and HFC

  1. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are both synthetic compounds used as refrigerants.
  2. They share the similarity of being alternatives to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Difference Between HCFC and HFC


  • HCFCs (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons) are synthetic chemicals that contain hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine, and carbon, while HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons) contain only hydrogen, fluorine, and carbon.

Ozone Depletion Potential

  • HCFCs have ODP(ozone depletion potential) albeit lower than CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons). They still contribute to ozone layer depletion, though to a lesser extent. HFCs have zero ODP, meaning they do not deplete the ozone layer.

Global Warming Potential

  • Moreover, HCFCs generally have a higher GWP (global warming potential) compared to HFCs.


In conclusion, the difference between HCFC and HFC lies in the presence of chlorine, with HCFC containing chlorine and HFC lacking it. Both were created to replace harmful CFCs, but HCFCs have been phased out due to their contribution to global warming. Though not harmful to the ozone layer, HFCs have a high potential for global warming. As we move away from these compounds, the focus is on adopting alternative technologies and substances that are environmentally friendly for both the ozone layer and the climate. This underscores the importance of sustainable solutions to protect the environment.


1. Is HCFC a greenhouse gas?

HCFC is a greenhouse gas. A greenhouse gas (GHG) is a gas in Earth’s atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range.

2. Which is more environmentally friendly, HFC or CFC?

HFCs are considered more environmentally friendly than CFCs. This is because they do not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. While HFCs do not contribute to ozone depletion, they have high global warming potential.

3. Why is HCFC better than CFC?

The HCFCs have shorter atmospheric lifetimes than CFCs and deliver less reactive chlorine to the stratosphere where the “ozone layer” is found. This makes HCFCs preferable to CFCs as they pose a reduced risk to the ozone layer.

4. Is HCFC harmful?

When inhaled at concentrations greater than 5,000 ppm, HCFC-123 can cause anesthetic effects and affect the central nervous system. Inhalation of more than 20,000 ppm can cause heart damage.

5. What do HCFC, CFC, and HFC stand for?

HCFC stands for hydrochlorofluorocarbon, CFC stands for chlorofluorocarbons, and HFC stands for hydrofluorocarbon. These compounds have been the subject of environmental concern due to their impact on ozone depletion and climate change


1. “Hydrochlorofluorocarbon – An Overview.” Science Direct.
2. “Hydrofluorocarbon.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.

Image Courtesy:

1. “HCFC-123-3D-balls” By Jynto (talk) – Created with Discovery Studio Visualizer (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Fluoromethane” By Yikrazuul – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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