Canadian Consulting Engineer

Chemical used in electrical equipment is ultra-potent greenhouse gas

A team of scientists from the University of Toronto have found a greenhouse gas that breaks all previous records in its potential to impact earth's climate.

December 17, 2013  Canadian Consulting Engineer

A team of scientists from the University of Toronto have found a greenhouse gas that breaks all previous records in its potential to impact earth’s climate.

The man-made chemical perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA) is used in electrical equipment and heat transfer agents, and has been used since the mid-20th century.

The U of T scientists led by Professor Scott Mabury found PFTBA is “the most radiatively-efficient chemical found to date.” Radiative efficiency describes a molecule’s ability to affect climate, and when this number is multiplied by its atmospheric concentration, scientists can measure the total climate impact.

In a report by Kim Luke in the University of Toronto online news, one of the scientist team, Angela Hong, says that over 100 years, “a single molecule of PFTBA has the equivalent climate impact as 7,100 molecules of C02.”

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There are no known processes that destroy PFTBA in the lower atmosphere, so it has a long lifetime of possibly hundreds of years.

To read the article in U of T News, click here.

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Environmental

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