A Hydrofluoroether (HFE) is a complex organic solvent. As a non-ozone-depleting chemical, it was developed originally as a replacement for CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, and PFCs HFE does not occur naturally. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, low toxicity, low viscosity, and liquid at room temperature. It is visually indistinguishable from water at room temperature. The vapor-point of HFE varies by chemistry from 50C to nearly 100C.
Due to its high molecular weight, it remains in the atmosphere for less than two weeks, being absorbed into the ground rather than remaining dissolved in the atmosphere. Although it is a greenhouse gas, the EPA does not regulate its use due to its short atmospheric lifetime and zero ozone depletion potential compared to alternative chemicals.
Industrial uses are many and varied:
- Vapor de-greasing solvent
- Refrigerant and heat-transfer fluid
- Anhydrous fluid cleaner
Although 3M first developed HFEs, other manufacturers have begun producing them.