At 20 0C, tetrachloroethane is a liquid denser than water and moderately volatile.
Characterized by low solubility, it will volatilize rapidly once dissolved and adsorbs moderately to
organic matter. During a spill, this compound will partially evaporate but may also enter into the
soil or migrate into a waterway. Once it encounters water (surface or subsurface), the
tetrachloroethane will primarily sink, or dissolve until it reaches an impermeable surface. The
liquid tetrachloroethane that accumulates in a saturated zone will slowly dissolve before partially
volatilizing. The adsorbed tetrachloroethane in the vadose and saturated zones will take time to
disappear, liberating contamination in either the gaseous (primarily) or dissolved state. The
resulting plumes (gaseous or dissolved) will be relatively limited in size.
Tetrachloroethene is a widely used synthetic chemical. Most tetrachloroethene is
produced by one of two processes: direct chlorination of simple hydrocarbons such as methane,
ethane, propane or propene, or oxychlorination of ethene to co-produce trichloroethene and
tetrachloroethene. Tetrachloroethene is used primarily as a cleaning solvent, in dry cleaning and
textile processing, metal cleaning and as a chemical precursor for fluorocarbons.
In dry cleaning, tetrachloroethene is able to dissolve fats, greases, waxes and oils without
harming natural or man-made fibers. In textile processing, tetrachloroethene is used as a scouring
solvent that removes oils from fabrics after knitting and weaving operations. Since
tetrachloroethene dissolves many organic compounds, some inorganic compounds, and high-melting
pitches and waxes, it can be used to clean and dry contaminated metal parts and other fabricated
materials. It is also used to remove soot from industrial boilers.
As a chemical intermediate, tetrachloroethene is primarily used in the production of 1,1,1,2
tetrafluoroethane, a popular alternative to chlorofluorocarbons refrigerants, and some
hydrochlorofluorocarbons. Tetrachloroethene is also used as an insulating fluid and cooling gas in
electrical transformers, in paint removers, printing inks, adhesive formulations, paper coatings,
leather treatments, in aerosol formulations such as water repellants, automotive cleaners, silicone
lubricants and spot removers, as an extractant for pharmaceuticals and as a precursor of