Perfluorotributylamine: New long-lived greenhouse gas discovered

Dec 09, 2013
Credit: NASA

Scientists from U of T's Department of Chemistry have discovered a novel chemical lurking in the atmosphere that appears to be a long-lived greenhouse gas (LLGHG). The chemical – perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA) – is the most radiatively efficient chemical found to date, breaking all other chemical records for its potential to impact climate.

Radiative efficiency describes how effectively a molecule can affect climate. This value is then multiplied by its atmospheric concentration to determine the total .

PFTBA has been in use since the mid-20th century for various applications in electrical equipment and is currently used in thermally and chemically stable liquids marketed for use in electronic testing and as heat transfer agents. It does not occur naturally, that is, it is produced by humans. There are no known processes that would destroy or remove PFTBA in the lower atmosphere so it has a very long lifetime, possibly hundreds of years, and is destroyed in the upper atmosphere.

"Global warming potential is a metric used to compare the cumulative effects of different on climate over a specified time period," said Cora Young who was part of the U of T team, along with Angela Hong and their supervisor, Scott Mabury. Time is incorporated in the global warming potential metric as different compounds stay in the atmosphere for different lengths of time, which determines how long-lasting the climate impacts are.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used as the baseline for comparison since it is the most important responsible for human-induced climate change. "PFTBA is extremely long-lived in the atmosphere and it has a very high radiative efficiency; the result of this is a very high global warming potential. Calculated over a 100-year timeframe, a single molecule of PFTBA has the equivalent impact as 7100 molecules of CO2," said Hong.

Explore further: Bridgmanite: World's most abundant mineral finally named

More information: The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and was published online at Geophysical Research Letters on November 27, 2013.

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User comments : 5

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Poj
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 09, 2013
So, how much has been found, and what does it all mean in terms of impact on Climate Change?
24volts
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2013
And how much is this going to cost the electronics industry to change to something else? There is probably other liquids that would perform the same job. I have little doubt they are probably more expensive to use though. That industry is just like every other one in that they will try to save as much money on overhead as possible.
ahaveland
1 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2013
"The chemical – perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA) – is the most radiatively efficient chemical found to date, breaking all other chemical records for its potential to impact climate."

This is patently untrue - SF₆ has 22,800 x CO₂E over 100 years, and 32,600 over 500 years.
http://en.wikiped...otential

"In 2000, SF₆ emissions from the United States electric power system were estimated at 604 metric tons SF₆, or 14.4 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO₂e). This quantity of SF₆ emissions is equivalent to the carbon dioxide (CO₂) pollution from 2.8 million passenger cars."
http://www.epa.go...p_02.pdf
ahaveland
1 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2013
Also:
"In 2000, SF₆ emissions from the United States electric power system were estimated at 604 metric tons SF₆, or 14.4 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO₂e). This quantity of SF₆ emissions is equivalent to the carbon dioxide (CO₂) pollution from 2.8 million passenger cars."
http://www.epa.go...p_02.pdf
ahaveland
1 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2013
bug report! after editing my first comment to include text of the 2nd comment, it didn't show the update after saving, giving the impression that it hadn't worked, so I added the 2nd, then the 1st showed it had updated properly! Argh... ajax woes...

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