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COMMERCIAL COMPRESSORS


CO2


takes


centre stage I


n September of 1987, the member states of the United Nations and European Union and others came together to address the growing threat of ozone depletion. Stratospheric ozone absorbs UVB radiation, protecting life on Earth from it’s harmful effects. By the 1980s, driven largely by CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) in the atmosphere, depletion of the earth’s protective ozone layer was accelerating at an alarming rate.


At the time, CFCs were widely used as refrigerants, propellants for aerosols and in plastic production. Policy- makers, scientists and leaders of industry came together to work out a solution and in 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed. The effects of this agreement were monumental, and ozone levels are expected to return the pre 1980 levels by the year 2065.


While the Montreal Protocol was largely successful in curtailing CFC production, their transitional replacements, HFCs, brought new problems. HFCs or hydrofluorocarbons, which were widely adopted as refrigerants to replace CFCs, do not interact with ozone, but have a high global warming potential.


28 November 2017


Livio Calabrese of Frascold talks about carbon dioxide as a driver for climate change.


GWP or global warming potential is expressed as a comparison of heat trapping capacity of a particular gas to that of the same quantity of CO2


. Since chemical compounds


have varying lifespans in the atmosphere, GWP is calculated over an interval of time. So with the GWP of carbon dioxide standardised to 1, other chemicals are given a number based on their damaging potential over a certain period of time. As a driver of climate change, carbon dioxide has long been the largest factor by quantity, but other chemical families, including CFCs and HFCs are much more potent. Today, HFCs only represent about 2% of carbon dioxide equivalents in the atmosphere, but left unchecked, this could reach up to 20% by 2050. This would have an outsized impact on climate change due to their extremely high GWP. R134a for instance has a GWP (over 100 years) of 1,300, but some other HFCs can be as high as 11,000.


To address this threat, in 2016, the Montreal Protocol was amended and the 197 signatories agreed to a binding plan to phase out HFCs. This agreement carries penalties of trade sanctions for countries that fail to live up to their responsibilities, and is expected to reduce HFC output by


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