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University of Toronto team discovers new long-lived greenhouse gas with GWP of 7,100

Scientists from the University of Toronto have discovered a novel chemical 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 affect climate.

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

Calculated over a 100-year timeframe, a single molecule of PFTBA has the equivalent climate impact of 7,100 molecules of CO2; i.e., its global warming potential (GWP) is 7,100.

PFTBA has been in use since the mid-20th century for various applications in electrical equipment and is 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.

The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Resources

  • Hong, A. C., C. J. Young, M. D. Hurley, T. J. Wallington, and S. A. Mabury (2013), “Perfluorotributylamine: A novel long-lived greenhouse gas,” Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, doi: 10.1002/2013GL058010

Comments

HarveyD

What a potent man made industrial killer with a very long life? This could be one of the best we have produced in the last 200 years or so?

The next one may even do better?

Jon

According to Wikipedia sulfur hexafluoride has a GWP over 100 years of 22 800. Though GWP is normally calculated on kg basis, not on molecular basis as calculated above. What are the correct numbers?

HarveyD

We normally make progress every generation or so ?

ai_vin

I heard about this a day ago. Apparently, a PFTBA concentration of 0.18 parts per trillion compares to 400 parts per million CO2. We've already got the second, we don't need the first too.

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